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Identity Theft in the Third Degree

Under the New York Penal Law, a person is guilty of identity theft in the third degree when he or she knowingly and with intent to defraud assumes the identity of another person by presenting himself or herself as that other person, or by acting as that other person or by using personal identifying information of that other person, and thereby: 1. obtains goods, money, property or services or uses credit in the name of such other person or causes financial loss to such person or to another person or persons; or 2. commits a class A misdemeanor or higher level crime. Identity theft in the third degree is a class A misdemeanor.

Throughout New York City, from Manhattan and the Bronx to Queens and Brooklyn, prosecutors have seen an enormous increase in crimes relating to Identity Theft pursuant to New York Penal Law sections 190.78, 190.79 and 190.80. This increase in related crimes has resulted in extensive investigations and indictments of single individuals as well as global organizations such as the Western Express Cybercrime Group and its members. As a former Manhattan prosecutor who was the most senior ADA assigned to the Identity Theft Major Case Section upon that unit’s creation, I not only have extensive experience prosecuting and building cases against those accused of Identity Theft crimes, but representing those charged with these offenses as well. Before discussing scenarios involving these offenses, this entry will deal specifically with the crime of Identity Theft in the Third Degree (NY Penal Law 190.78) and the relevant underlying definitions. Future entries will address Identity Theft in the Second (NY Penal Law 190.79) and First Degree (NY Penal Law 190.80).

Under the New York Penal Law, offenses involving theft of identity; definitions. 1. For the purposes of sections 190.78, 190.79 and 190.80 of this article “personal identifying information” means a person’s name, address, telephone number, date of birth, driver’s license number, social security number, place of employment, mother’s maiden name, financial services account number or code, savings account number or code, checking account number or code, brokerage account number or code, credit card account number or code, debit card number or code, automated teller machine number or code, taxpayer identification number, computer system password, signature or copy of a signature, electronic signature, unique biometric data that is a fingerprint, voice print, retinal image or iris image of another person, telephone calling card number, mobile identification number or code, electronic serial number or personal identification number, or any other name, number, code or information that may be used alone or in conjunction with other such information to assume the identity of another person. 2. For the purposes of sections 190.78, 190.79, 190.80, 190.81, 190.82 and 190.83 of this article: a. “electronic signature” shall have the same meaning as defined in subdivision three of section three hundred two of the state technology law. b. “personal identification number” means any number or code which may be used alone or in conjunction with any other information to assume the identity of another person or access financial resources or credit of another person.

A New York Criminal Lawyer said that, Identity Theft involves knowingly assuming the identity of someone else by acting like them or using their personal information of theirs to commit fraud. It is similar to other fraud charges under New York criminal law. There are a variety of situations that can lead to identity theft charges. Identity theft can involve a misuse of identification to defraud, or steal money or property. It is also considered identity theft if an individual fraudulently represents themselves to get a job for which they are not legally qualified for, as in various immigration situations or other legal restrictions. There may be other reasons or motivations for one to “steal” the identity of another that may be prosecutable by law.

Identity theft laws in most states make it a crime to misuse another person’s identifying information — whether personal or financial. Such data (including social security numbers, credit history, and PIN numbers) is often acquired through 1) the offender’s unlawful access to information from government and financial entities, or 2) lost or stolen mail, wallets and purses, identification, and credit or debit cards. Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the nation, robbing its victims of time, money and peace of mind. Identity thieves often use the Internet but also can obtain sensitive personal data from trash cans and other unsecured locations.

The most serious of identity theft convictions is a Class D Felony with a potential sentence of up to 7 years in New York State prison. 1st Degree Identity Theft is charged when the fraud resulted in $2,000, committed in conjunction with an additional felony (Class D Felony or higher) at the same time, or when the defendant has had a previous identity theft conviction within the past 5 years.

Identity theft and identity fraud are terms used to refer to all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain. Wire Fraud involves fraud, or a plan or scheme to defraud, or obtain money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretense, representation, or promise, transmission, or cause for transmission by means of wire, radio or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce, including writing, signs, signals, pictures, and/or sounds for the purpose of executing a fraudulent scheme for financial gain.

Identity Theft charges, when accompanied by Wire or Mail Fraud, can be tried in both NY State and Federal Courts – essentially creating the need for criminal defense legal representation in both judicial systems. Federal cases can be extremely complex. A criminal defense attorney with experience in defending Federal criminal charges is highly advisable. There is a much at stake, and Federal prosecutors often have far more resources available to them to build their case. Your defense team must be up to the task and ready to fight for you.

Well, you have obtained goods and used credit of another person by using that person’s personal identifying information. If you did it with the intent to defraud. You may have just committed Identity Theft in the Third Degree. The real bad news is that you may have actually committed Identity Theft in the First Degree. As will be explained in a later entry, like Identity Theft in the Third Degree pursuant to subsection (2), Identity Theft in the First Degree has a similar clause. That clause, however, gives prosecutors the ability to “bump up” an Identity Theft in the Third Degree to an “E” or “D” felony if you commit criminal Identity Theft in the Third Degree while also committing a felony. For those of you who are not aware, the mere signing of another person’s signature on a credit card receipt after purchasing items without their permission and with the intent to defraud is potentially the “D” felony of Forgery in the Second Degree.

Identity theft laws in most states make it a crime to misuse another person’s identifying information — whether personal or financial. Such data (including social security numbers, credit history, and PIN numbers) is often acquired through 1) the offender’s unlawful access to information from government and financial entities, or 2) lost or stolen mail, wallets and purses, identification, and credit or debit cards. Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the nation, robbing its victims of time, money and peace of mind. Identity thieves often use the Internet but also can obtain sensitive personal data from trash cans and other unsecured locations.

If you are accused of an Identity Theft crime obtain the assistance of an experienced New York Criminal Defense Attorney and New York Order of Protection Attorney at Stephen Bilkis and Associates.

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