Identity crime includes ‘identity fraud’ and ‘identity theft’.
If a person uses another person’s personal information without permission this is referred to as ‘Identity fraud’. When a person fraudulently assumes or takes over another person’s identity this is referred to as ‘identity theft’.
Identity crime can include:
- The manufacture of a false identity card, such as a licence or passport;
- The possession of equipment to make false identification documents;
- ATM Fraud;
- Credit Card Fraud;
- Internet Fraud;
- Theft of mail;
- The opening of bank accounts in a false identity;
- Theft of tax file numbers;
- Cheque washing;
- Falsely obtaining a credit card from banks and retailers;
- Stealing money from existing accounts;
- Renting apartments or storage units under false names;
- Applying for loans in a false name.
In the electronic environment, fraud perpetrated by identity crime can occur very quickly, be easily repeated and can be very difficult to trace.
The increasing amount of identity theft and misuse of personal identity information has led to the addition of three new offences to Part 4 AB of the Crimes Act 1900(NSW). Since these amendments to the Act it is now an offence to either deal in (s.192J) or possess (s192K) identification information intending to commit or facilitate the commission of an indictable offence. These offences are:
192J – Dealing with identification information;
192K- Possession of identification information;
192L – Possession of equipment etc to make identification documents or things.
192J – Dealing with identification information
“A person who deals in identification information with the intention of committing, or of facilitating the commission of, an indictable offence is guilty of an offence.” This offence is committed when a person supplies identification information for the purpose of committing a ‘serious indictable’ offence.
This offence carries a penalty of a maximum 10 years’ imprisonment.
192K Possession of identification information
“A person who possesses identification information with the intention of committing, or of facilitating the commission of, an indictable offence is guilty of an offence.”
This is the most common charge of identity fraud. Credit Card Fraud and Identity Fraud tend to be prosecuted under this offence.
This offence carries a maximum penalty of 7 years imprisonment.
192L – Possession of equipment etc to make identification documents of things etc.
This is the least serious of the three new identity fraud offences. If you are found to possess equipment that is used to make identification documents like passports, birth certificates and licenses and it can be proved that you intended to use this equipment to commit an indictable offence you can be charged under this section.
The maximum penalty for this new offence is 3 years imprisonment.
The prosecution’s burden of proof
In identity Crime matters the onus of proof is on the Prosecution (usually the DPP).The Prosecution have to prove that
- The accused did in fact deal with identification information;
- The accused dealt with the identification information with the intent to committee an indictable offence or facilitate the commission of an indictable offence
- The accused did in fact possess equipment for the purposes of identification manufacture and with the intention of manufacturing a false identification document
Identification information can be information relating to a person (living or dead, real or fictitious, individual or body corporate) that can be used to identify the person and includes the following:
- A name or address
- A driver’s licence or drivers license number
- A date or place of birth
- Marital status
- Passport or passport number
- A digital signature
- Any biometric data
- A voice print
- A credit or debit card; a credit card number
- A financial account number, username and password
- An ABN
- Any series of numbers or letters intended for use as a means of personal identification
If you are facing an identity theft charge, or the Police want to speak to you about an identity crime offence, Phone us immediately on 9955 2298 or 0400 44 64 24
It is crucial to get expert legal advice and representation as soon as possible. Identity theft charges are serious but they can be difficult for the Police to prosecute. Fraud charges can often be successfully defended.