NY Identity Theft Defense Attorney

Identity theft is a serious crime that can be prosecuted in state and federal courts. There are a variety of offenses that are prosecuted as federal identity theft. In a nutshell, identity theft is any unauthorized accessing and using of personal identifying information. Identity theft crimes range from simple offenses such as using fake documents to very sophisticated schemes involving high technologies. These include frauds involving Social Security numbers, computer tampering, bank accounts, mail, credit card numbers, drivers license, and other identifying data.


Federal Identity Theft Offenses

The federal government uses the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act to prosecute cases of identity theft. Additionally, other statutes are often used in Identity theft prosecutions.

  • Identity Theft 18 U.S.C. 1028 (maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment)
  • Credit card fraud (18 U.S.C. 1029),
  • Computer fraud (18 U.S.C. 1030),
  • Mail fraud (18 U.S.C. 1341),
  • Wire fraud (18 U.S.C. 1343),
  • Financial institution fraud (18 U.S.C. 1344)

All of these offenses carry draconian penalties. A conviction of an aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 2 years and some of the other identity theft related offenses have maximum prison terms of 30 years.

There has been a dramatic increase in criminal prosecutions of identity theft in New York in the recent years in both state and federal courts. New York identity theft defense attorneys of Joseph Potashnik and Associates are on the cutting edge of defending clients accused of identity theft. We represented a number of individuals accused of all forms of identity theft from bank fraud to ATM skimming to credit card fraud to mortgage fraud to fraudulent tax return preparation.

Identity Theft Criminal Cases in New York

In NYC, Identity Theft in the Third Degree (New York Penal Law 190.78) and Unauthorized Use of a Computer (New York Penal Law 156.05) are very serious and very real crimes. A conviction for one of these crimes may result in incarceration and other consequences.

A person can be guilty of third-degree Identity Theft if he knowingly assumes the identity of another person or uses that person’s personal identifying information and either commits another “A” misdemeanor crime (such as unauthorized Use of a Computer) or uses credit or obtains money or property of another person.

Unauthorized Use of a Computer is committed when a person accesses or uses a computer, computer service or computer network without permission.

Increasingly, these charges tend to be brought in tandem, since identity theft is now so often committed by accessing someone’s e-mails or personal information in an unauthorized manner.

If you are charged with these crimes in New York City, there is a minimum standard for how much evidence of your guilt the prosecution must bring up in the complaint. Recently, a New York court held that the complaint must allege how the defendant committed the alleged crimes. It is not enough just to state that she or he committed them. However, the allegations do not have to be detailed. It is enough to set forth allegations that can form a reasonable basis for concluding that the defendant committed the crimes. Thus, the requirements for a valid complaint are still fairly minimal.

Charges of identity theft and unauthorized use of a computer can be brought whether the allegations set forth a far-ranging scheme done for profit, or a single act.

ATM Skimming

Skimming is a type of credit card fraud that involves stealing personal information through fake or altered ATMs.  This can involve tampering as sophisticated as creating a dummy card reader, to as simple as attaching a pinhole camera to capture users entering their pin number.  Software can also be altered to record transactions and personal financial information.


ATM skimming is often detected through analysis of the transaction patterns of those that have been targets of credit card fraud as well as sophisticated algorithms to detect patterns of fraud.  If a pattern emerges, an ATM will be investigated for either tampering of suspicious activity.  It is through these patterns that most perpetrators of ATM skimming are caught.


If you are facing criminal prosecution for tampering with an ATM or other forms of ATM skimming in New York, you will need a New York City Criminal Lawyer to work on your defense.  Your lawyer will help to defend you against the prosecution’s claims.


Identity Theft vs. Unlawful Possession of Personal Identification

Both offenses are consequently similar, which allows New York prosecutors to elevate charges that would often seem like a sole infraction within itself. Offenses such as possessing another person’s New State identification card and using it to purchase alcohol, tobacco and other goods may constitute as both Identity Theft and Unlawful Possession of Personal Identification Information.


The New York Penal Law Section 190.78 to 190.80 states that a person is guilty of identity theft when he knowingly and intentionally assumes the identity of another person by presenting himself as that other person or by using personal information of that other person to defraud. The charge is supposed to be proportionate to the aggregate amount of financial loss to the alleged victim(s); a higher aggregate amount may result in a higher criminal charge.


According to the New York Penal Law Section 190.81 to 190.83, Unlawful Possession of Personal Identification Information occurs when a person possesses another person’s financial services account number or code, personal identification number, electronic signature or any other personal identification information, and intentionally uses the information to further commit a crime.


But by contrast to Identity Theft, the charges for Unlawful Possession of Personal Identification Information are elevated by the number of items of alleged misappropriated personal identification information and prior criminal record, more specifically, a conviction of grand larceny, identity theft, and unlawful possession of personal identification within the last five years.


If you have been charged with identity theft and/or unauthorized use of a computer, or unlawful possession of personal identification information you should be aware that these charges can have severe consequences for you. It is in your best interest to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney, who will work to obtain the best possible disposition in your case.

Call our experienced NYC identity theft defense attorneys at (212) 577-6677 to schedule an immediate consultation.