05 Sep 2018
European Union parliamentarians have approved proposals that will mete out unilateral jail sentences across the bloc for non-cash payment fraud, including those involving virtual currencies.
Gaps and differences among EU countries’ laws can hamper the detection and punishment of crimes such as fraud and counterfeiting of credit cards, electronic wallets, mobile payments and virtual currencies, say Members of the European Parliament.
With non-cash payments constantly increasing in the digital era, fraud involving schemes such as skimming or phishing has become an important source of income for organised crime, a European Parliament (EP) statement said.
According to the EP, new measures approved by the Civil Liberties Committee to address the issue include:
• Establishing five, four or three years of prison, depending on the offence, as the minimum penalty in cases where a judge imposes the national “maximum” custodial sentence for non-cash payment fraud.
• Covering virtual-currency transactions in the scope of offences.
• Improving EU-wide cooperation to ensure cross-border frauds are better dealt with.
• Strengthening assistance to non-cash fraud victims, such as psychological support, advice on financial, practical and legal matters and free legal aid at least for those who lack sufficient resources for it
Rapporteur Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann said: “Digitalization has transformed the way we pay. As non-cash payments are used more and more, criminals exploit loopholes in the current rules.
“In today’s vote we managed to harmonise the definitions of online crime offences throughout the EU, introduce a minimum level for penalties for them and improve the protection of victims of non-cash fraud.”
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