The state of Mexico has strict laws regarding the theft of identity, whether done in person or online. Both methods earn the perpetrator a fourth degree felony sentence. Victims of the crime have the right to restitution so they may gain back any money stolen while their identities were fraudulently used.
- 1 New Mexico Laws
- 2 Famous Cases
- 3 Resources
New Mexico Laws
Theft of Identity - 30-16-24.1A
Recording or transferring the personal data of another without their consent is known as theft of identity. An intent to defraud that person or another is a worse crime within the law, earning the offender a lengthier sentence. It is a fourth degree felony, equating to an 18 month prison sentence and $5,000 worth of fines.
Obtaining Identity By Electronic Fraud - 30-16-24.1B
Obtaining another person’s identity with the use of electronics is known as electronic fraud. Another term for the crime is phishing. This is where a criminal uses email scams and online interactions to request the personal information of another. Many pretend to be a legitimate business, which makes the victims more trusting so they will disclose their information freely. This crime earns the perpetrator the same sentence as typical theft of identity. The offender will spend up to 18 months in a correctional facility.
Fraudulent Use of Credit Cards - 30-16-33
Using another person’s credit card in an effort to obtain any money or valuable item is considered fraudulent. This includes attempting to use an invalid or revoked card in an effort to gain cash. The crime is a fourth degree felony if more than $1,000 worth of cash or goods are obtained while using the stolen card. Less than $1,000 earns the offender a misdemeanor sentence.
The crime excels to a third degree felony charge, punishable by a maximum of three years in prison, when the amount reaches $2,500. A second degree charge, which equates to a nine year maximum sentence, is given to those who obtain more than $20,000. Hefty fines are also associated in each instance, along with restitution to be paid to the victim.
Restricted Use of Social Security Numbers - 57-12B-4
Businesses are not allowed to show social security numbers to the public. This includes printing them out and making them available, such as on receipts. A social security number should also not be required online, unless only the last four digits can be used. The use of a social security number should only ever be needed on an employment application or to obtain a line of credit. It is restricted in every other aspect, unless required by a government agency or court of law.
Security Freeze - §56-3A1
New Mexico consumers are allowed to place security freezes on their account whenever they desire. It just takes sending in the request in writing, along with any associated fees. Each agency will request a fee with their freeze and freeze removal. It typically costs $10 to place the freeze and $5 to have it removed.
Victims are not obligated to pay these fees. They can send in a copy of a report indicating their victim status in order to have these charges waived. With the freeze in place, no other creditors will be able to access the information with the report.
New Mexico has seen its fair share of newsworthy identity theft cases.
Document Technician Involved With Identity Theft and Tax Fraud
A document technician working in the county clerk’s office abused her power in an effort to steal identities and commit tax fraud. Maria Ceniceros worked alongside her friend, Armando Gutierrez-Torres, to steal identities and use their information to complete tax returns. They would then cash the return checks and use the money for themselves.
The crime came to an end when Ceniceros spoke to a co-worker about joining the scheme. He immediately alerted the authorities, who had him participate in the scheme for a short while in order to catch the two criminals in the act. Robert Hernandez was given three tax income checks and told to cash them so the three people could split the profits. He instead turned the checks over to the police.
Both Gutierrez-Torres and Ceniceros plead guilty to their crimes. They were charged with aggravated identity theft and theft of public money. Gutierrez-Torres took the blame for the initial startup of the crime ring, stating that he asked Ceniceros to provide him with the identities of people born in 1995 in order to file false returns. Ceniceros used the voter registration database to obtain the information, including birthdates and social security numbers. She stole the identities of more than 100 victims, but only made it through a handful of them before being caught.
The total amount the two criminals received reached over $11,000. Gutierrez-Torres was in New Mexico illegally from Mexico. He will face a two year prison sentence, and then be deported back to his birthplace. Ceniceros was sentenced to 18 months in a correctional facility. With these crimes committed, the county clerk’s office where the two worked chose to implement additional security measures and protocols so this type of event would be less likely to occur again.
New Mexico provides its citizens with a selection of resources, ranging from government agencies to law help.
Nmag.gov: The state of New Mexico Office of the Attorney General offers a Consumer Protection area that focuses on protecting identity, especially when online. Helpful tips are offered in an effort to keep consumers protected and ensure they can report the incident quickly if it should ever happen to them.
Nmlegis.gov: The New Mexico legislature provides all legislation and laws set forth by the state. This includes identity theft, fraudulent credit card use, and phishing.
Theiacp.org: The International Association of Chiefs of Police discusses ID safety in each state. New Mexico laws and regulations regarding identity theft and payment card fraud are all indicated.
Dps.state.nm.us: The New Mexico Department of Public Safety offers identity theft information. A number of resources and helpful information is provided on their website, mainly intended for victims of the crime.