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Massachusetts G.L. c. 266 § 37E: Identity Fraud

The criminal offense of identity fraud is governed by Massachusetts General Laws chapter 266 section 37E and makes it a crime to either pose as another or obtain the personal identifying information of another without that persons express authorization in order to obtain money, goods, services or anything of value or to harass another.

The statute provides that personal identifying information shall include: any name or number that may be used, alone or in conjunction with any other information, to assume the identity of an individual, including any name, address, telephone number, driver's license number, social security number, place of employment, employee identification number, mother's maiden name, demand deposit account number, savings account number, credit card number or computer password identification. 

Posing as another shall mean: to falsely represent oneself, directly or indirectly, as another person or persons.

And finally, for purposes of the statute, harassment may mean: to willfully and maliciously engage in an act directed at a specific person or persons, which act seriously alarms or annoys such person or persons and would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress.

There are a variety of ways that a person may be convicted of identity fraud under this statute. First, the Commonwealth may prove beyond a reasonable doubt under section 37E(b) that:

  1. The Defendant posed as another person
  2. The Defendant did so without that persons express consent;
  3. The Defendant used that person’s identifying information to obtain or attempt to obtain money, credit, goods, services, anything of value, an identification card or other evidence of identity, or to harass; and
  4. The Defendant did so with the intent to defraud.

Second, the Commonwealth may prove beyond a reasonable doubt under section 37E(c) that:

  1. The Defendant obtained personal identifying information about another person without that persons express authorization;
  2. The Defendant did so with the specific intent to pose as such person, or with the specific intent obtain money, credit, goods, services, anything of value, an identification card or other evidence of identity, or to harass;
  3. Or with the specific intent to assist another in posing as such person or obtaining money, credit, goods, services or anything of value an identification card or other evidence of identity, or to harass; and
  4. The Defendant did so with the intent to defraud.

Lastly, the Commonwealth may prove beyond a reasonable doubt under section 37E(c 1/2) that:

  • The Defendant possesses a tool, instrument or other article adapted or designed or commonly used for accessing a persons financial information, PIN numbers, passwords, electronic signatures or biometric data that is a fingerprint, voiceprint, retinal image of another;
  • Under circumstances indicating an intent to use or knowledge that another intends to use such tools in the commission of a larceny
  • The Commonwealth may proceed with prosecution for identity theft under this statute and a defendant may be convicted if the Commonwealth proves any of these three forms of the crime.

Penalties:

The potential punishment for the crime of identity fraud under any of these three sections includes imprisonment in the house of correction for not more than 2 ½ years and a fine of not more than $5,000.

Further, G.L. c. 266 s. 37E specifically provides that in addition to any fines and jail time imposed after a conviction for identity fraud, the Defendant will also be required to pay restitution for any financial loss suffered by the victim; this financial loss may include not only the value of goods, money or services received but may also include the costs incurred in correcting the victim’s credit history, as well as costs incurred in any debt related proceedings including attorneys fees and lost wages.

Related Offenses:

  • M.G.L. c. 267 § 1 – Forgery and Counterfeiting Certificate and Other Writings
  • M.G.L. c. 267 § 5 – Uttering False or Forged Records, Deeds or Other Writings

Identity fraud is a serious criminal charge and can be very costly if convicted. A criminal law attorney experience in defending against fraud and other property crimes cases can help you explore your defenses and receive the best possible disposition for such an offense.

Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney (617) 263-6800 

If you or someone you know faces identity fraud or other related charges, contact the Law Offices of Stephen Neyman, P.C. Attorney Neyman years of experience in defending clients who have been charged with criminal offenses and will help you achieve the best possible outcome for your case. Call Attorney Neyman’s office at (617) 263-6800 or send him an e-mail today.

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