When a person in New York thinks of gang crimes, he or she may envision drive-by shootings or massive drug busts. However, according to the New York Police Department (NYPD), more and more drug gangs are committing credit card theft. One NYPD official stated that in 2016, hundreds of apprehended gang members had stolen credit cards on them. The official stated that five-years ago, such crimes were rare.
The NYPD is committed to fighting such crimes. They have added detectives to grand larceny squads, as well as having gang squads commit raids. These raids would often turn up additional incidents of alleged weapons or drug crimes.
Police utilize surveillance to show how these gangs utilize credit card schemes. For example, one video appeared to depict gang members using a stolen credit card to buy several tablets. According to another video, gang members tested the credit cards by paying for a meal at a fast food chain, a parking meter or cab fare. If the cards were approved at one of these establishments, the suspects would reportedly continue to use the cards elsewhere.
According to investigators, gang members will use the funds raised in such schemes to purchase firearms, travel or purchase luxury automobiles. Investigators state that these individuals even posted their activities on social media outlets.
Investigators report that hackers on the "dark web" will provide gang members with the credit card numbers, or through associates who are employed in stores or eating establishments. According to officials, it only takes a quick swipe of a card through a hidden card reader for a person's card number to be stolen.
In the end, the NYPD reports that it will continue to prosecute violent crime and drug crimes, as they have stiffer sentences than credit card fraud. But, it is important that police do not overreach their power and violate the Constitutional rights of those they are accusing of gang crimes, whether they are violent crimes or theft crimes.
Whether a person is accused of a violent crime or credit card fraud, it is important that overzealous prosecutors do not take advantage of them. Therefore, if a person in New York is accused of credit card theft, he or she may want to form a solid defense argument, with the help of an attorney, to avoid a conviction.
Source: NBC 4 New York, "I-Team: Violent Drug Gangs Increasingly Turning to Credit Card Thefts as Big Moneymaker," Jonathan Dienst & David Paredes, Feb. 7, 2017