Senator JOSEPH F. VITALE
District 19 (Middlesex)
Clarifies that criminal impersonation committed by any means including electronic communications or Internet website shall be subject to criminal penalties.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act concerning impersonation via electronic means and amending N.J.S.2C:21-17.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. N.J.S.2C:21-17 is amended to read as follows:
a. A person is guilty of an offense if the person engages in one or more of the following actions by any means including, but not limited to, the use of electronic communications or an Internet website:
(1) Impersonates another or assumes a false identity and does an act in such assumed character or false identity for the purpose of obtaining a benefit for himself or another or to injure or defraud another;
(2) Pretends to be a representative of some person or organization and does an act in such pretended capacity for the purpose of obtaining a benefit for himself or another or to injure or defraud another;
(3) Impersonates another, assumes a false identity or makes a false or misleading statement regarding the identity of any person, in an oral or written application for services, for the purpose of obtaining services;
(4) Obtains any personal identifying information pertaining to another person and uses that information, or assists another person in using the information, in order to assume the identity of or represent himself as another person, without that person's authorization and with the purpose to fraudulently obtain or attempt to obtain a benefit or services, or avoid the payment of debt or other legal obligation or avoid prosecution for a crime by using the name of the other person; or
(5) Impersonates another, assumes a false identity or makes a false or misleading statement, in the course of making an oral or written application for services, with the purpose of avoiding payment for prior services. Purpose to avoid payment for prior services may be presumed upon proof that the person has not made full payment for prior services and has impersonated another, assumed a false identity or made a false or misleading statement regarding the identity of any person in the course of making oral or written application for services.
As used in this section:
"Benefit" means, but is not limited to, any property, any pecuniary amount, any services, any pecuniary amount sought to be avoided or any injury or harm perpetrated on another where there is no pecuniary value.
b. (Deleted by amendment, P.L.2005, c.224).
c. A person who violates subsection a. of this section is guilty of a crime as follows:
(1) If the actor obtains a benefit or deprives another of a benefit in an amount less than $500 and the offense involves the identity of one victim, the actor shall be guilty of a crime of the fourth degree except that a second or subsequent conviction for such an offense constitutes a crime of the third degree; or
(2) If the actor obtains a benefit or deprives another of a benefit in an amount of at least $500 but less than $75,000, or the offense involves the identity of at least two but less than five victims, the actor shall be guilty of a crime of the third degree; or
(3) If the actor obtains a benefit or deprives another of a benefit in the amount of $75,000 or more, or the offense involves the identity of five or more victims, the actor shall be guilty of a crime of the second degree.
d. A violation of N.J.S.2C:28-7, constituting a disorderly persons offense, section 1 of P.L.1979, c.264 (C.2C:33-15), R.S.33:1-81 or section 6 of P.L.1968, c.313 (C.33:1-81.7) in a case where the person uses the personal identifying information of another to illegally purchase an alcoholic beverage or for using the personal identifying information of another to misrepresent his age for the purpose of obtaining tobacco or other consumer product denied to persons under 18 years of age shall not constitute an offense under this section if the actor received only that benefit or service and did not perpetrate or attempt to perpetrate any additional injury or fraud on another.
e. The sentencing court shall issue such orders as are necessary to correct any public record or government document that contains false information as a result of a theft of identity. The sentencing court may provide restitution to the victim in accordance with the provisions of section 4 of P.L.2002, c.85 (C.2C:21-17.1).
(cf: P.L.2005, c.224, s.2)
2. This act shall take effect immediately.
This bill amends the State's criminal code to clarify that a person is guilty of the offense of criminal impersonation if the person engages in one or more of the actions prohibited by N.J.S.2C:21-17 by any means including, but not limited to, electronic communications or an Internet website.
As computers and electronic communication devices have become more commonplace, banks, financial institutions, and other businesses have encouraged their customers to create their own electronic identities in order to engage in transactions electronically via the Internet. While the use of electronic identities to transact business provides greater convenience to customers and is more cost effective for businesses, these identities include personal identification information such as access codes and passwords that may be misused by others who obtain such information and use it for fraudulent purposes. This type of electronic fraud can cause severe financial and emotional damages to persons whose identities are stolen and illegally used by others.
This bill is intended to clarify that persons who engage in criminal impersonation involving the use of any electronic communications or Internet websites, shall be subject to the penalties prescribed by N.J.S.2C:21-17.