Trinidad and Tobago adopted the Electronic Transfer of Funds Crime Act in 2000. The main purpose of this legislation is to regulate the transfer of money through an electronic terminal by means of a card instructing or authorizing a financial institution to debit or credit a cardholder’s account when purchasing goods. The Act establishes several offenses deriving from the misuse of the process.
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The main purpose of Trinidad and Tobago’s Electronic Transfer of Funds Crime Bill 2000 is to regulate the transfer of money through an electronic terminal by means of a card for the purpose of instructing or authorizing a financial institution to debit or credit a cardholder’s account when anything of value is purchased. The online use of credit cards is not addressed by the Act.
The Act defines a card as a bank card, credit card, or smart card, and thus relevant provisions using this terminology relate to these types of cards. The Act introduces a number of offenses, including:
- making false statements;
- theft by taking or retaining possession of card;
- card theft;
- the purchase or sale of card of another;
- obtaining control of a card as security for debt;
- card forgery;
- signing a card of another;
- fraudulent use of a card;
- obtaining goods, etc., by use of false, expired, or revoked card;
- trafficking in counterfeit card; and
- possession of card-making equipment.
Section 3 provides that it is an offense for a person to make any false statement in writing regarding a material fact regarding his identity or financial condition, or that of any other person, for the purpose of procuring the issuance of a card to himself or another person. Such a person commits an offense if he makes such statement knowing it to be false and with intent that it be relied upon. Offenders are liable to a fine of thirty thousand dollars.
Section 4 of the Act deals with the offense of taking a card from the possession, custody or control of either a cardholder or a person holding or having possession of the card. Under this section of the Act, taking a card without consent includes obtaining it by larceny or fraud, or by obtaining property by false pretenses, or by extortion. Section 5 of the Act makes it an offense for a person to receive a card that he knows or ought to reasonably know to have been lost, mislaid, or delivered under a mistake as to the identity or address of the cardholder, where that person retains possession with intent to use, sell, or to traffic it to a person other than the issuer or the cardholder. This offense is punishable by a fine of up to twenty thousand dollars.
Section 15 makes it an offense to obtain goods or services using a false, fictitious, counterfeit or expired card or card number. This offense is punishable by a fine of thirty thousand dollars and imprisonment for two years, or on conviction on indictment to a fine of fifty thousand dollars and imprisonment for five years.
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Ira Piltz, Greenpoint Technologies