Category Archives: White Collar Crimes

Cyber Crimes and Identity Theft

The internet has transformed society and has made everything from registering your car to shopping for groceries easier and more efficient than ever before. With the growth of benefits from the internet, however, has come the growth of cyber crime and identity theft. Identify theft is the fastest growing crime and involves stealing the information needed to access and exploit financial resources.

Lawmakers and prosecutors take cyber crime and identity theft very seriously and aggressively pursue charges and harsh sentences against alleged offenders. That being said, identity theft does occur on a regular basis and many people find themselves accused of various criminal acts related to cyber crime and identity theft.

Some accusations that may lead to identity theft charges include the following:

  • Using a phishing scheme to access personal information
  • Sending fraudulent emails or having fraudulent forms to collect information
  • Hacking into other computers or networks to get identifying information
  • Wrongfully obtaining usernames and passwords to access financial accounts
  • Selling wrongfully obtained information over the internet

White collar crime cases often involve much different evidence than cases alleging a physical or violent crime. Computers, internet history, external hard drives, and more may all be confiscated and reviewed by the authorities to build an identity theft case against you. Investigations can take a long time, so you may not be charged with a crime right away. As soon as you suspect you are under investigation, you should seek legal representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney.

In addition to identity theft charges, many cyber crime suspects also face accusations of conspiracy. Conspiracy occurs whenever two or more people agree to engage in unlawful activity. Many cyber criminals are part of a larger group of hackers or fraudsters and they work together to steal personal information. If you are convicted of conspiracy, it can substantially increase your sentence on top of your sentence for the underlying identity theft. Having an experienced defense lawyer on your side is critical in the face of such allegations.

Contact a New York Identity Theft Attorney for a Free Consultation

If you have been accused of identity theft or any other type of cyber crime, your first call should be to the Law Office of Stephan Jacob Siegel. We are uniquely situated to understand and implement the best possible defense against charges of cyber crime, fraud, and other white collar offenses.  One of Mr. Siegel’s cousins and an excellent reference source always willing to give advice is the former chief of the Illinois State Police Computer Crime Bureau, a former Illinois State Assistant Attorney General, a federal law clerk and presently head of the cyber crime unit of a huge international business firm.  Please call our office today at 718-575-3900 for more information about how we can help with your case.

Understanding Check Fraud

Under New York penal law, the penalties associated with both felony and misdemeanor forgery can result in steep sentencing of years in prison and additional fees. While sentencing can vary greatly be the severity of the crime in which you were charged—from third to first degree—one of the points that they all have in common is that your intent to defraud must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Here’s an example of one interesting case from 2014 that had to deal with fake checks.

People v. Zeller: This case involved a New York woman who created fake checks that included her own name and information, so she was not attempting to present herself as someone else. She then gave them to a third party, and while the intent throughout was decidedly fraud, the checks were not technically falsely made and the courts dismissed charges of Second Degree Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument. Had she been convicted of this charge, she would have been faced with up to seven years in federal prison, separate from the other levied charge of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree.

The Importance of Zeller: This case shines a revealing light on the different types of check fraud that can be applied in cases of Forgery and Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument. It will not be a defense for individuals who are accused of falsifying a signature of someone else on one of their checks, since that was not the case in Zeller’s circumstances. The main importance here was on the maker of the checks, rather than their authenticity or lack thereof.

However, when it comes to instances of “fabricating instruments”, like Zeller making her own checks, it can be a central defense precedent. It is not a get out of jail free card, and there are many other charges that can be levied against this type of crime which are not defensible by the Zeller precedent. Those stipulations considered, it is certainly an interesting and valuable new part of the New York penal code that is worthy of consideration by all defendants.

Your Options: If you are a resident of Queens or the greater New York City Metro area, you can find top notch quality service here with me, Stephan Jacob Siegel, Esq. If you have been charged with forgery for check fraud or using forged instruments, I will use revealing cases like the Zeller case above to craft a solid defense strategy for my clients.

For over thirty years, I have represented by clients with the utmost professionalism and have an excellent success rate and extensive courtroom experience. I handle many areas, including white collar criminal defenses, fraud and embezzlement, internet crimes, health care fraud, insurance fraud, and real estate fraud. For a free consultation about my services, call the office today at 718-575-3900; you’ll be glad that you did.

Brushing Up on Money Laundering

If the phrase “money laundering” brings to mind backroom gangsters and counterfeit operations, you’re one of many. However, money laundering is a legal crime that covers a much broader range of activities, and is far more common than some may think. Here’s what you need to know about money laundering, from what it entails, some defenses I can utilize against a money laundering charge, and the commonly applied penalties for a conviction.

What is Money Laundering? Money laundering is seen as any financial transaction that comes about as the result of using proceeds that came from criminal activities. The second transaction may be initially legitimate, but becomes criminal because the funds that were used to propel it came from an illegal source. This is done with the intention of hiding the source of the money, with the expectation that once it changes hands, it will be far less trackable in regards to the earlier crime.

Which Crimes Count? Any crimes that produce money for the individual or group can lead to money laundering, which includes any state or federal laws that are currently upheld in New York. The degree of severity in the case will increase if the crime producing the money involved the sale of drugs or it’s trafficking, as well as other specific results in cases of terrorism or supporting terrorist organizations.

What Qualifies as a Financial Transaction? In New York, a financial transaction includes all and any of the following: purchases, sales, payments, deposits, wire transfers, loans, extensions of credit, currency exchanges and transfers of title. This is not exhaustive; other transactions that take place through another financial institution such as a bank, broker, or credit union may also qualify in the scheme of money laundering.

How can you defend against a money laundering charge?  There are many powerful defenses against money laundering designed to keep innocent individuals from getting caught in the middle of criminal conduct which they would not otherwise have been involved. These deal mostly with the lack of knowledge about the money’s origins, or a lack of intent to play a role in the money laundering, whether it is through the initial criminal conduct or through transporting and cycling through the funds and proceeds involved. If you’ve been accused of money laundering and believe it was through police entrapment, this can also be another solid defense against the charge.

What are the penalties to a money laundering charge? There are multiple levels of sentencing in money laundering charges, ranging from relatively minor fourth degree money laundering—with a felony sentence of up to four years—to the very severe charge of first degree money laundering, a Class B felony that carries with it a 25 year sentence. Fines can also be placed, but cannot go higher than two times as much as the money involved in the laundering case.

How Can I Help?  With over 25 years of experience providing skilled representation to my clients, the Law Office of Stephan Jacob Siegel is proud to provide you with the utmost attention to a case involving money laundering, and a number of other practice areas. For a free phone consultation, call me today at 718-575-3900 to learn how my experience can be put to work for you.

Chasing Cyber Crime

Cyber-crime may bring to mind images of elite hackers or issues rarely seen on a local level, but computer crimes are an increasingly common facet of criminal law in a world that is increasingly taking place online. Here are some of the regularly seen types of computer crime in New York state law, specifically those drawn out in Section 156 of the NY Penal Code.

Unauthorized use of a computer: this is one of the most commonly seen charges, which means you’ve used a physical computer or access a system without the proper authorization, or if you bypass a password to do so. This is considered a class A misdemeanor.

Computer trespass: More serious, and appropriately a class E felony offense, computer trespassing means accessing the computer or system without authorization, as above, but with the intent to commit a felony. This would also cover if a person knowingly gains access to computer material to which they were not authorized.

Computer tampering: This is an offense that can cover several degrees of severity, and involves intentionally changing or deleting data without the permission of the person to whom it belonged.

  • Even if you used the computer or system with the owners’ consent, the actions that you do while using the device or program can constitute as fourth degree computer tampering, which is a class A misdemeanor.
  • Third degree computer tampering, a class E felony, happens when the person was previously convicted of a computer crime, or if the tampering deliberately caused damages resulting in over $1000 dollars.
  • Second degree computer tampering involves all the same stipulations as fourth degree, as well as intentionally changing or destroying data with damages resulting in more than $3,000. This is a class D felony.
  • First degree computer tampering meets all the above requirements and causes more than 50,000 in damages. It is a class C felony.

Illegal Copying: A class E felony, unlawful duplication of computer related material software or program data that results in financial losses for the owners is known as illegal copying. The damages should amount to more than $2,500 and the individual should have intent to cause the felony. Copying the software is covered in this statute, as if the possession of stolen data even if you weren’t the one who actually copied it. If you knowingly possess a copy of computer related material that was unlawfully produced, you could be successfully charged with this felony.

In many of the above computer crime cases, defenses of believing that the defendant’s actions were legal can stand up in court. If you’re facing a charge of computer crimes, it’s often more serious than it sounds, especially when you did not know you were acting illegally. For an experience lawyer on your side, look no further than my office in Forest Hills, NY.  Call me, Stephan Siegel today at 718-575-3900 for a free consultation and to learn more about how I can put my computer crime court experience to work for you.