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Credit card crime
Student, Hugh Wooding Law School
With the increasing use of credit cards in Trinidad and Tobago, credit card crime is also becoming more prevalent. This article is intended to highlight some of the more common forms of credit card crime and the consequences that follow for illegal credit card use.
Under the law, credit card theft takes several forms. It includes taking, receiving or transferring a credit card to another person without the cardholder’s consent or the consent of someone authorised by him. It also extends to someone who uses, sells or gives to another person a card he may have received or found.
Additionally, someone who receives and keeps several cards that do not belong to him also commits an offence. The penalties for these offences range from a fine of $20,000 to $30,000 if charged in the magistrates court or a fine of $50,000 and five years’ imprisonment if tried at the High Court.
Selling credit cards
People may also commit the offence of selling credit cards. This offence only occurs if a person is not an official financial issuer of credit cards. A person who is found guilty of this offence is liable to a fine of $20,000 at the magistrate’s court.
Obtaining a credit card as security for a debt
It may not be common knowledge but obtaining a credit to act as security for a debt is an offence. A person who commits this offence is liable to a fine of $20,000 at the magistrate’s court.
Card forgery and fraud
If someone writes on, draws, embosses or marks a credit card so as to fraudulently obtain goods or services, he commits the offence of card forgery. This includes possessing a forged card. The penalty is a $30,000 fine and two years’ imprisonment if tried at the magistrate court or $50,000 and five years’ imprisonment if tried at the High Court.
Fraud by creditors
Illegal credit card activity also extends to creditors. A creditor, who grants goods or services, knowing that the card used to obtain those goods or service is illegal, commits an offence. The penalty, if tried at the magistrate’s court is a $30,000 fine and two years’ imprisonment, or a $50,000 and five years’ imprisonment if tried at the High Court.
Credit card trafficking
If a person is found with three or more counterfeit cards and other relevant documents which indicate they are fake, he is viewed as engaging in credit card trafficking. He must prove that he has these items for another reason to avoid being found guilty of the offence. If found guilty the penalty is $50,000 and five years’ imprisonment.
If someone has, receives, buys, sells or controls credit card equipment and intends to use that equipment to manufacture counterfeit credit cards, he commits an offence. The burden is on the person to prove his innocence. If convicted, he is liable to pay a $50,000 fine and imprisonment for five years.
• This column is not legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should consult a legal adviser. Co-ordinator: Roshan Ramcharitar
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