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Credit Card Fraud & Related Offenses

NJ Credit Card Theft, Credit Card Forgery & Credit Card Fraud

Criminal Defense Attorney & Former Prosecutor

The criminal attorneys at the Law Offices of John F. Marshall defend individuals arrested, charged or indicted in New Jersey with credit card theft, credit card forgery, and credit card fraud. If you or a loved one is the subject of an indictment in NJ for a credit card crime, an attorney from our law firm can assist you in making sure that all of your rights are fully protected. Please do not hesitate to contact our office to speak to a lawyer. Initial consultations are always without charge and we handle these types of cases statewide including Monmouth County, Middlesex County, Union County, Essex County, Hudson County, Somerset County, Ocean County, and Morris County. The following information is provided for your assistance.

The New Jersey Credit Card Fraud Act is contained at N.J.S.A. 2C:21-6 and criminalizes the following credit card offenses: (1) False Statements Made in Obtaining a Credit Card; (2) Credit Card Theft; and (3) Fraudulent Use of Credit Cards. All three areas of the New Jersey Credit Card Law are discussed below. The following definitions are important in understanding all three areas of the law and in deciding on an attorney:

  • " Cardholder" means the person or organization named on the face of a credit card to whom or for whose benefit the credit card is issued by an issuer;
  • " Credit card" means any tangible or intangible instrument or device issued with or without fee by an issuer that can be used, alone or in connection with another means of account access, in obtaining money, goods, services or anything else of value on credit, including credit cards, credit plates, account numbers, or any other means of account access;
  • " Expired credit card" means a credit card which is no longer valid because the term shown either on it or on documentation provided to the cardholder by the issuer has elapsed;
  • " Issuer" means the business organization or financial institution which issues a credit card or its duly authorized agent;
  • " Receives" or " receiving" means acquiring possession or control or accepting a credit card as security for a loan; and
  • " Revoked credit card" means a credit card which is no longer valid because permission to use it has been suspended or terminated by the issuer.

1. False Statement Made in Obtaining a Credit Card

N.J.S.A. 2C:21-6(b) defines what constitutes lying or giving False Statements to Procure a Credit Card and how individuals shall be treated in terms of penalties when the statute is violated. In this regard, the law provides that a "person who makes or causes to be made, either directly or indirectly, any false statement in writing, knowing it to be false and with intent that it be relied on, respecting his identity or that of any other person, firm or corporation, or his financial condition or that of any other person, firm or corporation, for the purpose of procuring the issuance of a credit card is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree." N.J.S.A. 2C:21-6(b).

Our criminal attorneys are knowledgeable in this area of NJ law and will make sure that the prosecutor establishes and proves an accusation, complaint or indictment including: (1) proving that you actually made or caused a false statement to be made in writing; (2) that the false statement was made with respect to the your identity or the identity of a third party; (3) that you actually knew that the statement was false and intended that the false statement would be relied upon; and (4) that you made the false statement for the purpose of obtaining a credit card. If you are under investigation, were arrested or indicted for lying on a credit card application in NJ, our law firm can certainly help you.

2. Credit Card Theft

N.J.S.A. 2C:21-6(c) addresses six varieties of credit card theft violations under New Jersey law: (1) taking a credit card without the cardholder's consent; (2) receiving a lost, mislaid or mistakenly delivered credit card; (3) selling or buying a credit card from someone other than the issuer; (4) obtaining a credit card to secure a debt; (5) falsely making, counterfeiting or modifying a credit card; and (6) unauthorized signing of a credit card. NJ Indictments involving allegation of stolen credit cards or stealing credit cards arise in all five of these scenarios.

a. Taking or Using A Credit Card Without Consent

If an individual takes or uses the credit card of another without consent, they are can be charged with a Fourth Degree Crime. N.J.S.A. 2C:21-6(c)(1). To be found guilty of the offense, the accused must have taken or used the credit of another and possessed the intention to improperly use or transfer the card.r or cardholder. The provision is typically charged where someone obtains the credit card of another without consent or where someone buys or receives a credit card with knowledge that it has been taken. It is also important to keep in mind that a consent obtained by fraud, deception, extortion, misappropriation or false pretense, is an invalid consent and use of a credit card under such a circumstance can give rise to a charge under this provision. The law presumes that if an individual in possession of two or more credit cards issued in the names of two or more persons other than himself, he is violating this section of the law. Each lawyer at the NJ firm is aggressive in making sure that the State is held to appropriate standard of proof where a client is charged with theft or stealing credit cards.

b. Receiving a Lost Credit or Mislaid Card under N.J.S.A. 2C:21-6(c)(2)

The second type of credit card theft involves a person who receives a credit card that was lost, mislaid or delivered under a mistake as to the identity or address of the cardholder. The law effectively deems the card stolen when it is wrongfully held and/or used. In order to be found guilty under this provision of the statute, an individual must know that the card was lost, mislayed or mistakenly delivered, and that must intend to use, sell or transfer the credit card to a person other than the issuer or the cardholder. A conviction under this section is a Fourth Degree Crime and our attorneys always do their best to make sure that every opportunity is extended to defeat the charge and/or have it reduced to a non-criminal charge - petty disorderly persons offense.

c. Selling or Buying Credit Cards

In accordance with N.J.S.A. 2C:21-6(c)(3), a person is guilty of a Fourth Degree Crime where he knowingly buys or sells credit cards that he obtained from someone other than the issuer, i.e., cards that were stolen. This section of the NJ statute is intended to criminalize the transfer of stolen credit cards.

d. Falsely Making, Counterfeiting or Altering a Credit Card

N.J.S.A. 2C:21-6(c)(5) makes it illegal under New Jersey Law to falsely make, counterfeit, alter, or improperly tamper with credit cards. Where an individuals undertakes the aforesaid conduct and possesses the intent to defraud another, he can be charged criminally. This offense is a Third Degree Crime. The elements of proof that must be established by the state and prosecutor are: (1) the accused falsely, counterfeited or adulterated a credit card; and (2) he possessed the to defraud the issuer or a person who provides goods, services or anything of value. The statute defines "falsely making" as making, drawing or altering of the card without the issuer's authorization. It is particularly important that a knowledgeable attorney is retained where alteration or counterfeiting is alleged as there is a potential for Federal Credit Charges.

3. Fraudulent Use of Credit Cards

a. Using a Credit Card Knowing it was Revoked, Forged or Expired

N.J.S.A. 2C:21-6(d) addresses use of unauthorized or improper credit cards. In this regard, the fraud law prohibits use of a credit card which "is forged, expired or revoked." A violation of this provision of the New Jersey Credit Card Law is a third degree crime. Four (4) elements must be established by the prosecutor in order to obtain a conviction under this law: (1) the accused must have intended to defraud the issuer or someone providing goods or services; (2) the credit card must have been used to defraud; (3) the card used was forged, expired or revoked; and (4) the accused had knowledge of the defect in the card. Lack of knowledge concerning the falsity of the card is obviously a major area for defense and a criminal lawyer at our firm will insure that the prosecutor establishes knowledge and/or that the charge is dismissed.

b. Representing to be Cardholder When Not Having Authority

N.J.S.A. 2C:21-6(d) also prohibits an individual from "representing without the consent of the cardholder that he is the holder of a specified card or by representing that he is the holder of a card and such card has not in fact been issued..." This is a Third Degree Crime. This portion of the credit card law has three elements which must be established in order to prove guilt: (1) the accused must have represented he was the true owner or that the card was valid when it was not; (2) the accused must have intended to defraud the owner of the card or someone providing goods or services; and (3) the accused actually was able to use the card and obtained something of value through its use.

c. Fraud Committed by the Provider of Money Goods or Services

N.J.S.A. 2C:21-6(e) is the section of the law which criminalizes misuse of credit cards by store owners and other individuals providing goods or services. This portion of the law is divided into two sections. The first section of the statute addresses instances where improper cards are knowingly allowed to be used in return for goods and services. This is a Third Degree Crime. The statute has four (4) elements which must to established by the State and prosecutor: (1) the defendant must have been authorized by the issuer to furnish goods or services; (2) the defendant provided the related goods or services; (3) the defendant allowed the card to be used for the purpose of committing a fraud; and (4) the defendant knew that the card was stolen, forged, expired or revoked.

The second section of this provision penalizes NJ sellers of goods or services who misrepresent sales, that is, represent that goods or services were provided when they actually were not. This is a Fourth Degree Crime.

d. Possession of Plates or Contrivance to Produce Purported Credit Card

Possession of plates or other contrivances to produce instruments which purport to be credit cards is a crime of the third degree.

e. Receipt of Anything of Value As Result of Credit Card Fraud

N.J.S.A. 2C:21-6(g) provides that "a person who receives money, goods, services or anything else of value obtained in violation of subsection d. of this section, knowing or believing that it was so obtained is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree." What this provision does is criminalize in New Jersey the receipt of goods and/or services which someone knows was acquired as the result of credit card fraud or credit card theft.

The NJ Model Jury Charge at http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/charges/jury/credit03.htm for Credit Card Offenses is also helpful in terms of illustrating the law on this subject.

New Jersey law concerning credit card fraud, credit card forgery and credit card theft is complex and an experienced attorney at the Law Offices of John F. Marshall is available to assist you in defending the accusation, complaint or indictment filed against you. Our lawyers represent individuals throughout NJ and our offices are conveniently located and accessible from almost everywhere in the State including Ocean County, Monmouth County, Middlesex County, Union County, Essex County, Mercer County, Passaic County, Somerset County, Hudson County, and Bergen County. Please do not hesitate to contact our office if you have a question or are seeking legal representation in NJ.

Helpful Resources:

New Jersey State Police Information on Identity Theft at http://www.njsp.org/tech/identity.html

Federal Trade Commission Advice on How to Avoid Credit & Charge Card Fraud at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre07.shtm

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The criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of John F. Marshall represent New Jersey adult and juvenile clients from offices in Shrewsbury, Cranford, Toms River, Jersey City and New Brunswick. We provide prompt and convenient client service to people in such communities as Newark, Plainfield, Freehold, Eatontown, East Brunswick, Edison, Woodbridge, Westfield, Clark, Rahway, Piscataway, Sayreville, Elizabeth, Middletown, Asbury Park, Long Branch, Jackson, Lakewood, Point Pleasant, Edison, Old Bridge, Aberdeen, Linden, Belmar, Eatontown, Hazlet, Holmdel, Ocean, Sea Bright, Hoboken, Weehawken, Seaside Park, Seaside Heights, Tinton Falls, Wall, Brick, Dover, Jackson, and other locations in Monmouth County, Middlesex County, Union County, Ocean County, Burlington County, Mercer County, Essex County, Hudson County and Morris County.

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