PHOTO: The White Collar Crime Task Force report, which was issued in September 2013, recommended that identity theft and related offenses be added as predicate felonies under the Organized Crime Control Act. Courtesy of the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York
By Forum Staff
State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance this week called on the Assembly to pass legislation to help combat identity theft by expanding the state’s enterprise corruption statute to include cybercrime and ID theft-related offenses, which have been plaguing the borough in recent years.
Currently, the Organized Crime Control Act provides increased penalties for patterns of repeated criminal activity—as defined by three or more criminal acts committed within a five-year period—carried out in connection with a structured criminal enterprise. Criminal acts covered by the OCCA include many financial and economic offenses but do not cover identity theft and related crimes. Cybercrime, however, is one of New York’s most pervasive and fastest growing crime types, Peralta said, and the harm caused to victims is significant, whether the victims are individuals or entire organizations.
The bill expands the OCCA’s definition of a criminal act to include identity theft and related offenses including unlawful possession of personal identification information, computer tampering, unlawful duplication of computer-related materials, criminal use of an access device, and unlawful possession of a skimmer device, among others.
“As gangs and organized crime syndicates are becoming more and more involved in perpetrating computer crimes, money laundering and identity thefts, this legislation will provide a much needed and commonsense tool for law enforcement,” Peralta said. “As is often the case, the law has not kept up with technology and currently, the New York’s enterprise corruption statute excludes a broad range of these crimes from its coverage. Computers are a part of our daily lives, and sadly, criminals use them to steal both our money, and our identities. My bill has passed the Senate several times, including during this year’s Legislative Session that is now coming to a close. The clock is ticking, and it is my hope that the New York State Assembly will step up to the plate and take up this important legislation, where it is sponsored by Assemblymember Michael Miller. As always, I want to thank Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance for his unwavering efforts in curbing organized crime, especially as it relates to the growth of cybercrimes and identity theft.”
Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven) echoed Peralta’s sentiment.
“Law enforcement must keep up with the changing landscape of criminal enterprises. In this day and age traditional criminal organizations have become more complex and have turned to cyber-crimes to cover their traces while obtaining new avenues to make money,” he said. “I have pushed for legislation that would assist law enforcement with tackling such crimes within the state of New York. I am currently fighting for passage of a bill in the Assembly that if passed would assist law enforcement with updated language in penal law on criminal enterprises and their actions of such cyber-crimes. I commend Senator Jose Peralta for his efforts on passing this bill through the State Senate. District Attorney Cy Vance had been a strong advocate for this legislation and continues to diligently work to combat crimes where identify theft and fraud are perpetrated electronically.”
The law follows the recommendation of the White Collar Crime Task Force, which District Attorney Vance convened during his tenure as president of the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York. The panel issued a 100-page report recommending, among other proposals, that identity theft and related offenses be added as predicate felonies under the OCCA.