Assembly Panel Advances Bill To Add Criminal Penalties For Online Identity Impersonation

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Assemblyman Craig J. Coughlin

TRENTON – Legislation that would crack down on criminal impersonation committed by electronic communications or the Internet was released Monday by an Assembly panel.

“Frankly, technology has progressed so rapidly that our laws simply have not kept up. Unfortunately, we have seen nationwide instances of impersonation and identity theft that have impacted individuals and families both financially and emotionally,” said Assemblyman Craig J. Coughlin (D-Middlesex), a sponsor of the bill. “This legislation simply clarifies that criminal impersonation extends to the Internet and it shall be subject to criminal penalties.”

The bill (A-2105) would amend the state’s identity theft statutes to impose criminal penalties on anyone found guilty of criminal impersonation or identity theft involving the use of any electronic communications or internet websites. These acts include but are not limited to impersonating another or assuming a false identity for the purpose of obtaining a benefit or injuring or defrauding another.

Currently, penalties under the statute range from a crime of the fourth degree to a crime of the second degree, depending on the monetary amount of the benefit involved and the number of victims. The bill creates a disorderly persons offense if the benefit has no pecuniary value and the offense involves the identity of one victim.

The bill was released by the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

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