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Criminal Bank Activity Gets an Upgrade

September 8, 2014 | Posted In Criminal Law |

Our society is becoming increasingly dependent on online banking for everyday transactions—today, you can do everything from transferring funds to making a credit card payment to depositing checks from your computer or phone. But as we have learned from recent fraud scares and online security breaches, these methods of banking are not foolproof, and hacking, fraud, and online theft does happen fairly regularly, as do online delays, payment deletions, and other complications. To keep up with the flow of modern banking practices, the state has reevaluated its laws regarding criminal activity for bank accounts, criminal lawyers in New Jersey say. 

Fraudulent money transfers and remittances that are transacted online will now carry steeper criminal and civil penalties, according to a package of bills passed by the New Jersey Senate over the summer. These two bills, A-1153 and A-1162, make amendments to the state’s existing law, in order to more accurately prosecute crimes according to the ways in which money is being moved and banking is being conducted. 

A-1153 is an amendment to existing state law N.J.S.A. 2C:21-5, also known as the New Jersey Fraudulent Transfer Act, which limits fraudulent activity to bad paper checks, and penalizes those who pass off bad checks with criminal punishments. Under the updated bill, false electronic transfers will be subject to criminal penalties, which could be on the level of a disorderly persons charge or a second-degree crime. The severity of the criminal charge and penalty will be largely dependent on the amount of the fraudulent transaction. These electronic transfers can include wire payments, ACH debits or credits, and transfers between two accounts. 

The second bill, A-1162, makes it possible for a person who receives a bad electronic transfer order—in which the sender does not have the funds fully available, or provides incorrect account information so as to avoid actually paying—to file a civil claim against the sender, if the funds are not properly sent within 35 days of the original transfer. 

The Fraudulent Transfer Act outlines what are known as “badges of fraud” for those who may be using electronic transfers as a method of payment to consider. These badges of fraud analyze the type of transaction, who has control of the funds at any given time, the amount of the transfer, the whereabouts of the debtor, and the relative secrecy in which the transfer was initiated or processed. Any of these things could be a trip-up, even for people who have made an inadvertent bad electronic transfer, and could lead to criminal and civil charges. 

These updates to state law should be noted by anyone who uses online banking as a way to pay their bills, send funds to others, or pay people for services rendered. It is now much more dangerous for people who send a bad wire or ACH payment, and there is a much smaller timeframe for correcting an error. At the New Jersey law firm Helmer, Conley, and Kasselman, PA, our criminal attorneys represent anyone who has been charged with criminal activity, including monetary transaction fraud. Contact an HCK criminal attorney to discuss your case today. 

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