BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) are urging the New York State Assembly to expand New York State’s “Enterprise Corruption Statute” to include cybercrime and identity theft related offenses.
“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 in a press release.
According to Peralta, the law has not kept up with technology with New York’s Enterprise Corruption Statute excluding 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,” Peralta said. “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.”
Sponsoring this legislation is Assemblyman Michael Miller (D-Woodhaven), who has been pushing for a legislation that will assist law enforcement with tackling these crimes within the New York state.
“Law enforcement must keep up with the changing landscape of criminal enterprises,” Miller said in a statement. “In this day in 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.”
Miller is currently fighting for a bill to be passed by the assembly that will assist law enforcement with updated language in penal law that will target criminal enterprises and their cyber-crimes.
Although the Organized Crime Control Act, which provides increased penalties for patterns of repeated criminal activity, covers financial and economic offenses, it does not cover identity theft related crimes. This is problematic because cybercrime has become the fastest growing crime.
According to a press release, 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.
“Since its creation in 2010, my Office’s Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau has prosecuted more and more cybercrime and identity theft rings operating in a manner similar to traditional organized crime groups,” said Vance. “However, New York State has done little to adapt existing laws to a changing criminal landscape, which means that we are effectively fighting 21st-century crimes with tools from the 1970s.”
A group of 11 defendants, around the ages of 39, were recently arrested for buying card numbers from at least five credit card scamming websites.
Peralta said that anyone’s credit card information can be stolen at their everyday convenience stores such as Target.
“Skimmers are being placed on these cards to collect information and as you are walking these scammers can easily access your information,” Peralta said. “However, we don’t have the type of law that will go after these individuals.”
Although this legislation has gotten passed the Senate, he is hoping that the Assembly will pass it too.
“Every day that passes identity theft and cyber theft is increasing because we aren’t taking action and people are getting away with it,” Peralta said.
Peralta will be sitting with the assembly speaker this upcoming week in efforts to persuade him to push the legislation forward. Considering that Peralta has never gotten as far as to be able to speak with the speaker in the past years about this legislation he is keeping his fingers crossed that maybe this may be his shot.