Criminal Charges Relating to Credit Card Scanners, Skimmers, and Reencoders in NJ

Credit card theft using sophisticated computer technologies has been in the New Jersey Criminal Code well before incidents like New York’s “Operation Swiper” made headlines for one of the biggest card “skimming” crime rings busts in U.S. history. Credit card scanners, skimmers, and reencoders can be used to illegally obtain the private data of another person’s credit card, and reprogram that data to a new card for later use. Committing this type of credit card fraud can lead to substantial jail time, high fines, restitution costs, and a felony record — even for first time offenders.

Credit Card Scanning / Fraud – Degree of Crime

ATM Card Skimming ExplainedIt is a crime of the third degree for a person, with the intent to defraud an authorized user of a payment card, the issuer of the authorized user’s payment card or a merchant, to use:

  1. scanning device to access, read, obtain, memorize or store, temporarily or permanently, information encoded on the magnetic strip or stripe of a payment card, without the permission of the authorized user of the payment card; or
  2. reencoder to place information encoded on the magnetic strip or stripe of a payment card onto the magnetic strip or stripe of a different card or any electronic medium that allows a transaction to occur without the permission of the authorized user of the card from which the information is being reencoded.

Alternatively, it is a crime of the fourth degree for a person to knowingly possess any device, apparatus, equipment, software, article, material, good, property or supply that is specifically designed or adapted for use as or in a scanning device or reencoder, with intent to commit a violation of one of the above offenses.

In New Jersey, third degree credit card scanning or reencoding offenses are punishable by three (3) to five (5) years in state prison. Fourth degree possession of a credit card scanning, skimming, or reencoding device is punishable by up to 18 months in prison.

2C:21-6.1. Payment cards; fraudulent use of scanning and other electronic devices; definitions

The New Jersey Legislature specifically defined these terms set forth within its Criminal Code:

  1. Merchant” means any owner or operator of any store or other retail mercantile establishment, or any agent, servant, employee, lessee, consignee, officer, director, franchisee or independent contractor of such owner or proprietor.
  2. Payment card” means a credit card, charge card, debit card or any other card that is issued to an authorized card user and that allows the user to obtain, purchase, or receive goods, services, money or anything of value from a merchant.
  3. Reencoder” means an electronic device that places encoded information from the magnetic strip or stripe of a payment card onto the magnetic strip or stripe of a different payment card or any electronic medium that allows a transaction to occur.
  4. Scanning device” means a scanner, skimmer, reader or any other electronic device that is used to access, read, scan, obtain, memorize or store, temporarily or permanently, information encoded on the magnetic strip or stripe of a payment card.