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Federal Access Device Fraud Charges in New York

The federal charge of access device fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §1029, broadly punishes all frauds involving credit or debit cards, including any scheme involving electronic codes or account numbers. The statute was enacted as part of the 1984 Comprehensive Crime Control Act and supplanted the previous federal charges of Fraudulent Use of Credit Cards (15 U.S.C. §1644) and Fraudulent Use of Debit Instruments (15 U.S.C. §1693n).

In addition to increasing the scope of the statute to include a significantly greater amount of fraudulent activity, the new statute also increased the maximum fines and potential incarceration in the event of a conviction. Because of the complexities that surround these laws, it is important to reach out to an experienced defense attorney when facing federal access device fraud charges in New York.

How Does Someone Receive Access Device Fraud Charges?

According to 18 U.S.C. §1029, whoever intentionally tries to defraud by producing or trafficking any counterfeit access devices or uses any unauthorized access devices with a combined value greater than $1,000 in a one-year period may face federal fraud charges in New York. Additionally, if a person possesses at least 15 counterfeit or unauthorized access devices with intent to defraud may be punished by up to ten years imprisonment and fined.

Similarly, whoever offers to sell or produce a fraudulent or false access device or creates a device to obtain unauthorized use of telecommunication services, may be punished by up to ten years imprisonment and fined.

Additionally, whoever produces, traffics or possess access device-making equipment or a scanning receiver with the intent to defraud, may be punished by up to 15 years imprisonment and fined upon conviction.  This equipment may include an apparatus that can be used to intercept a wire or electronic communication. Finally, individuals who have been convicted under this statute on multiple occasions may face an enhanced maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment.

Important Definitions of Access Devices

The statute utilizes three key terms in describing the conduct it describes: Access devices, counterfeit access devices, and unauthorized access devices. Generally, an “access device [is defined] as any card, plate, code, account number, electronic serial number, mobile identification number, personal identification number … equipment … or other means of account access that can be used … to obtain money, goods, services, or any other thing of value ….”  United States v. Abozid, 257 F.3d 191, 194 (2d Cir. 2001) (internal quotation marks omitted).

A counterfeit access device “means any access device that is … fictitious, altered, or forged,” (United States v. Gugino, 860 F.2d 546, 549 (2d Cir. 1988) (internal quotation marks omitted)) and an unauthorized access device is one that has been lost, stolen, revoked, expired or “obtained with intent to defraud.”  Abozid, 257 F.3d at 197-198.  Finally, an access device may be construed as both unauthorized and counterfeit under certain circumstances, permitting prosecution pursuant to multiple theories of liability.  Gugino, 860 F.2d at 550.

Contact a New York Attorney for Help Dealing with Federal Access Device Fraud Charges

As this area of the law is constantly changing and complex, it is important to hire a top criminal defense attorney when handling federal access device fraud charges in New York.  The Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman have successfully handled countless federal fraud cases, so we have the skill and experience to help you in your situation. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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