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Senate puts skimmers and scammers on notice with passage of Pearson anti-financial fraud bill


The Senate passed a measure sponsored by Sen. Kirk Pearson that makes it a crime to possess an “instrument of financial fraud.” Senate Bill 6248 passed by a vote of 47-1, and now heads to the House of Representatives.

“Mere possession of one of these instruments is not much of a crime today – only a gross misdemeanor,” said Pearson, R-Monroe, “but as technology evolves, we need to make sure the law evolves with it. Law enforcement needs this tool to arrest and charge those who use new technology for crime.”

SB 6248 would make it illegal to possess what are called “instruments of financial fraud” – tools used by identity thieves and other criminals to gain access to victims’ money, credit or other valuables. Instruments used to commit financial fraud may include stolen checks, stolen or fraudulent credit cards and debit cards; fake checks with fictitious names or accounts; fake identification cards; or equipment to produce fake driver licenses or checks.

The bill is also specifically aimed at combatting the problem of “skimming” technology. Skimming isn’t new – it’s been around almost as long as ATMs, but a new generation of skimming technology has taken a significant leap forward. Using sophisticated devices, criminals are now able to read the magnetic strip on victims’ cards and even record PINs entered by the victims.

“My bill would make it a class C felony to possess one of these skimming devices, which may include anything from wireless devices and magnetic card readers to video recorders and ATM overlays,” said Pearson, a member of the Senate Law and Justice Committee. “Senate Bill 6248 is an important step in protecting all Washingtonians from falling prey to these criminals, and making it more costly for those who commit these crimes.”

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