Credit Card Theft

Credit Card Theft

The offence of theft, forgery, et., of credit card is outlined in section 342(1) of the Criminal Code.

A person commits the offence of theft, forgery, et., of credit card when they:

  • steal a credit card;
  • forge or falsify a credit card;
  • possess, use, or traffic in a credit card or a forged or falsified credit card knowing that it was obtained, made, or altered in a manner that is illegal in Canada; or
  • use a credit card knowing it has been revoked or cancelled.

Examples

Person A finds person B’s wallet on the sidewalk and removes person B’s debit cards, credit cards, and cash before tossing the wallet into the garbage. Person B uses the credit card to make a purchase.

Person C buys a credit card from person D, knowing that the card was stolen by person D.

Person E sees their roommate receive and activate their new replacement credit card and uses the roommate’s old, cancelled credit card to go shopping.

Cases

R. v. Rasjasingan, 2007 ONCJ 61

In R. v. Rasjasingan, the accused was charged with credit card theft when he was found in a stolen vehicle with multiple counterfeit credit cards. Some of the credit cards were linked to real account numbers held by people other than those named on the cards. Many of these individuals had previously reported improper activity on their accounts.

R. v. N.(Y.), 2005 ONCJ 427

In R. v. N.(Y.), the accused was charged with credit card theft when he broke into the apartment of an elderly woman who he tied up while he ransacked her bedroom, taking her jewellery, cash, and credit cards.

Offence Specific Defence(s)

Not a Credit Card

Where the person has taken, forged, or falsified something other than a credit card, they have not completed the offence of credit card theft.

Mistaken Belief in Colour of Right

Colour of right refers to a person’s legal right to something. If a person owns a credit card, they have colour of right in that credit card. If an individual genuinely believes they have colour of right in a credit card, they lack the necessary intent to be convicted of credit card theft.

For example, person A lives with person B. Both parties have the same credit card from the same bank, and both cards look identical. On the way out of the house one morning, person A grabs what she believes is her credit card from the table and later uses it to purchase lunch. The card is tap enabled so person A is not required to enter a PIN. Later, upon returning home and finding person B searching for her credit card, person A realises she accidentally picked up person B’s credit card on her way out that morning, having mistaken it for her own. Person A genuinely believed the card was her own and had no intent of taking person B’s card.

No Knowledge

Where the person does not know that they are using a falsified credit card; that they have used or transferred a credit card obtained, made, or altered in a manner that is illegal in Canada; or that the credit card has been revoked or cancelled, they may not have completed the offence of credit card theft.

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