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Criminal Resource Manual

1348. Counterfeited And Forged State And Corporate Securities -- Relevant Definitions

The terms "counterfeited," "forged," "security," "organization," and "State" are defined in subsection 513(c). "Utter," which is not expressly defined in 18 U.S.C. § 513, but the judicial construction given the word "utter" in the context of other federal statutes will likely be applied to this statute. See, e.g., 18 U.S.C. §§ 493, 494, and 495.

The terms "counterfeited" and "forged" refer to the making of the security. Did the person have the authority to issue or make the document or writing? If not, it is counterfeit or forged. 18 U.S.C. § 513(a) does not encompass the initial genuine making of a security which contains false or misleading statements (e.g., true name check for which there are insufficient funds in the account to cover it). The purpose of this provision is the protection of the integrity of the security and not the punishment of fraudulent conduct in general.

The term "security" is defined broadly to encompass all the securities covered under the National Stolen Property Act (18 U.S.C. §§ 2311, 2314, and 2315) plus others. Besides stocks and bonds it covers common securities such as checks, money orders, and traveler's checks. It also covers letters of credit, warehouse receipts, and negotiable bills of lading. Because it encompasses "an instrument evidencing ownership of goods, wares, or merchandise," it covers motor vehicle titles issued by state departments of motor vehicles.

The term "security" also covers "debit instruments" as defined in §  916(c) of the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (15 U.S.C. § 1693n(c)) (i.e., "any card, code, or other device other than a check, draft, or similar paper instrument, by the use of which a person may initiate an electronic fund transfer."). Accordingly, as to the counterfeiting and forging of debit instruments, Section 513 may overlap and expand upon some of the criminal activity prohibited by 18 U.S.C. § 1029 (Pub.L. No. 98-473, Title 11, Chapter XVI-Credit Card Fund). It would appear that possession of one counterfeit debit card is covered under 18 U.S.C. § 513. Title 18 U.S.C. §  1029(a)(3), on the other hand, requires possession of fifteen or more of such counterfeit devices.

The definition of "security" also includes the blank forms of any of the categories of securities covered by the statute. The definition of "state" includes the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands and any other territory or possession of the United States. 18 U.S.C. § 513 covers the securities of municipal and state agencies. The term "organization" is defined to mean a legal entity, other than a government, established or organized for any purpose. This definition is broad enough to cover all organized business entities as well as any other association of persons which operates in, or the activities of which affect, interstate or foreign commerce.

[cited in USAM 9-61.500]