Under 18-5-702 CRS, it is a criminal offense in Colorado to use, possess, or manufacture a blank credit card. Unlawful use of a financial transaction device encompasses credit cards, debit cards, ATM cards, or other financial devices. This crime can be a petty offense, misdemeanor, or a felony.
18-5-702 CRS states that “(1) A person commits unauthorized use of a financial transaction device if he uses such device for the purpose of obtaining cash, credit, property, or services or for making financial payment, with intent to defraud, and with notice that either: (a) The financial transaction device has expired, has been revoked, or has been cancelled; or (b) For any reason his use of the financial transaction device is unauthorized either by the issuer thereof or by the account holder.”
In this article, our Denver Colorado criminal defense lawyers will address:
- 1. What is the Financial Transaction Device Crime Act?
- 2. What are financial transaction devices?
- 3. What are the penalties for the unlawful use of a financial transaction device?
- 4. What are the penalties for the unlawful manufacture of a financial transaction device?
- 5. Related Offenses
1. What is the Financial Transaction Device Crime Act?
The possession or sale of a blank financial transaction device without authorization is a criminal offense. A person commits criminal possession or sale of a blank financial transaction if he or she possesses another person’s card, with the intent to use, deliver, or sell a blank card which has not been embossed or magnetically encoded. 1
An unlawful blank credit card or debit card, under this section, includes a blank financial transaction device that does not contain all of the characteristics of a completed financial transaction device, but has one or more of the following characteristics encoded or embossed:
- Name of the account holder;
- Personal identification code;
- Expiration date; or
- Other proprietary institutional information.
The Financial Transaction Device Crime Act also prohibits the unlawful manufacture of a financial transaction device.2 A person commits unlawful manufacture of a credit card or debit card if, with the intent to defraud:
- Falsely makes or manufactures a financial transaction device, by printing, embossing, or magnetically encoding; or
- Falsely alters or adds uniform product codes, optical characters, or holographic images to a device which is or plans to be a purported financial transaction device; or
- Falsely completes a financial transaction device by adding to an incomplete device to make it a complete one.
Falsely altering, making, or completing a financial transaction device involves transforming or changing such a device. This includes erasing or inserting new information to appear authorized or creating a card that appears to be an authentic creation of its fictitious or unauthorized owner.3
2. What are financial transaction devices?
A “financial transaction device” includes any instrument or device representing a financial account or affecting the financial interest of the account holder that can be used to obtain cash, goods, property, or services or to make financial payments.4
Financial transaction devices under this act do not include checks, but include many other commonly used financial transaction cards, including:
- Credit cards;
- Banking cards;
- Debit cards;
- ATM cards;
- ETF or electronic fund transfer cards; or
- Guaranteed check cards.
3. What are the penalties for the unlawful use of a financial transaction device?
The penalties for criminal use of a financial transaction device depend on the number of devices involved. Criminal possession of a blank financial transaction device is a class 6 felony. The penalties for unlawful possession of a blank financial transaction include 12 to 18 months in prison, a fine of up to $100,000, and mandatory parole for 1 year.5
However, possession of two or more blank financial transaction devices is a class 5 felony. The delivery, circulation, or sale of a blank financial transaction device is also a class 5 felony. The penalties for a class 5 felony conviction include 1 to 3 years in prison, a fine of up to $100,000, and mandatory parole for 2 years.6.
Delivery, circulation, or the sale of two or more blank financial transaction devices is a class 3 felony. The penalties for a class 3 felony conviction include 4 to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $750,000. In addition, there is a mandatory parole period of 5 years.7
4. What are the penalties for the unlawful manufacture of a financial transaction device?
Unlawful manufacture of a financial transaction device is a class 5 felony. The penalties for the unlawful manufacture of a financial transaction device include 1 to 3 years in prison, a fine of up to $100,000, and mandatory parole for 2 years.8
5. Related Offenses
5.1. Identity Theft C.R.S. 18-5-902
In Colorado, it is a criminal offense to use another person’s personal or financial identifying information to obtain anything of value. This includes using another person’s identity in a real estate transaction to commit real estate fraud. Identity theft can be a felony or a misdemeanor.
5.2. Computer Crime C.R.S. 18-5.5-102
In Colorado, it is a computer crime to access any computer, computer network, or computer system for the purpose of executing any scheme to defraud. The criminal penalties for computer crimes depend on the value of theft or loss and the individual’s criminal history. Computer crime can be a misdemeanor or felony offense.
5.3. Colorado Organized Crime Act C.R.S. 18-17-104
The Colorado Organized Crime Act (racketeering laws) prohibits a number of criminal activities aimed at members of criminal enterprises. It prohibits racketeering activity, which are generally crimes that gangs or organized crime may be involved with. Racketeering is a class 2 felony, with penalties including up to 24 years in prison and up to $1 million in fines.
5.4. Money Laundering C.R.S. 18-5-309
Money laundering involves moving money around to try and evade the government’s ability to track the source of the funds. Money laundering may be used to hide money that was embezzled from an employer. Money laundering is a class 3 felony in Colorado, and the penalties include 4 to 12 years in prison and fines of up to $750,000.
If you have been accused of unlawful use or possession of a financial transaction device, please contact us at Colorado Legal Defense Group.
Arrested in Colorado? See our article on California credit fraud crimes.
Arrested in Nevada? See our article on the Nevada crime of credit card possession without consent.
- C.R.S. 18-5-705(1)
- C.R.S. 18-5-707(1)
- C.R.S. 18-5-707(2)
- C.R.S. 18-5-701(3)
- C.R.S. 18-5-705(2)
- C.R.S. 18-5-705(3)
- C.R.S. 18-5-705(5)
- C.R.S. 18-5-707(3)