Issue 1 - September 2010

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Advice on the use of credit cards


editing & introductory note: Fotios Spyropoulos
PhD Candidate, Lawyer - Penologist - Criminologist,
Center for Penal and Criminological Research

"Plastic money" has replaced cash as the dominant method of payment in our everyday transactions. We are familiar, therefore, with the use of credit cards, but how well do we know to protect ourselves from credit card fraud?

In this issue’s "vivere impericolosamente", after an introductory analysis of how Greek criminal law theory addresses the issue of credit cards, we follow with...

Tips and advice concerning the use of credit cards

In Greece, the subject of credit card transactions is governed by Ministerial Decree Z1-178/2001 that harmonizes the provisions of Recommendation 97/489 in Greek legislation. In Europe there also applies the European Directive 1997/7/EC and European Directives 1987/102 and 1990/88 which regulate issues related to consumer credit. Two examples from Greek law on issues of payment through credit cards are decisions by the Athens Court of Appeal (2319/1999) and the Supreme Court of Greece (589/2001). One of the regular hazards of daily life is the theft of our credit card. What happens then?! What exactly has been stolen? Merely the credit card itself, or all the money in our credit balance?
The Supreme Court Decision No. 2056/2003 established the procedure for dealing criminally with credit card theft: the Greek Supreme Court clarifies that the removal of the credit card constitutes simple theft, and not theft of a worthless item. Nonetheless, under ruling No. 196/1999 of the Council of Kastorias’ Magistrate’s Court, the removal of a credit card was marked as worthless crime (an improvement from the theft of high-value object, as the card was characterized in the initial criminal proceedings), on the grounds that it "does not incorporate the value of accounts which represent but a proof of existence of the possibility of withdrawing money from them. Furthermore, in the prosecution’s proposal to the Board it is pointed out that "the value of the card is worthless as the value of paper. This view favoring worthless value for the stolen card is confirmed by Decision No. 127/2004 of the Supreme Court. In conclusion, as we can see the Supreme Court has issued two diametrically opposed decisions regarding the addressing the issue, in just one year (Supreme Court of Greece 2056/2003 and 127/2004).
In Greek theory, Milonopoulos [1] and Beckas [2] support the notion that the card is "something worthless" under the meaning of Article 377 1st paragraph. Conversely, Vassilaki [3] and Manoledakis [4] categorize credit card theft as an indiscriminate crime. Vassilaki argues that, according to the "unifying theory” (Vereinigungstheorie), the magnetic tape contains the economic value of money that can be withdrawn from the ATM, and therefore its theft extends "through the card, to the money that is withdrawn and which the offender has appropriated.”
In addition, the Supreme Court examined the highly important question of the serial theft in relation to the offences committed by its subsequent exploitation. Under Supreme Court of Greece 127/2004 it was deemed that "the theft of credit card, as a worthless offence, does not cover by the subsequent fraud, since the components of the two crimes are different.” This makes it a truly serial offence. On a theoretical level, Milonopoulos argues that the unauthorised withdrawal of cash constitutes a computer crime, an offence that certainly corresponds with the theft of the card (theft of a worthless item). Manoledakis, on the other hand, argues that "it is merely the theft of an automated transaction card belonging to owner, which is then used for misappropriation of the amount subsequently withdrawn by the offender. This is considered a serial crime if with the theft of the card the offender makes several withdrawals.”

Tips and advice concerning the use of credit cards

• If you make purchases using credit cards, it is good practice to keep a clear photocopy of the cards, and the phone number of the credit institution which issued them, in case of theft or loss. Collect the following information for each card in your possession:

a) the name of the card

b) the number of credit account

c) the telephone number for reporting lost or stolen cards.

• Never give out any bank card details, especially your password (PIN).

• Further responsibilities of credit card holders:

a) Carefully read before signing any receipts issued using your card.

b) Keep receipts from purchases you make and compare them with the charges that are applied to your account.

c) Keep receipts of your purchases until you have repaid them.

d) Do not leave your cards exposed, either in home, office, in the car, etc.

e) Do not keep your credit cards in a wallet containing cash and other important documents (passport, identity card, driving license, etc.). In this way you avoid the risk of losing everything together, and providing opportunity for others to use them for purchases, etc.

• If you buy something with your credit card, make sure you receive the copy of the receipt, even if the transaction is cancelled. This will prevent someone else from obtaining your credit card number.

• Photocopy the front and back of credit cards and file the photocopies in a safe place. If your card is stolen, you will have a copy of these as a reference in order to cancel the cards and submit a report to the police.

• Do not accept a high credit limit, or unnecessarily increase the limit on cards used in transactions via telephone or PC;

• Notify the bank immediately if your bank book or credit cards are stolen. Check you have all your bank cards at regular intervals, especially whilst traveling, etc.


Bibliography - Journals
I. Vassilaki, “The fight against computer crime”; Sakkoulas Publications, Athens; 1983 – in Greek

Christos Milonopoulos, “Criminal Law - Special Part”; Sakkoulas Publications, Athens; 2001

George Nouskalis, “Computer (PC) Fraud: The Past and Future of the Article 386 of Greek Penal Code, especially in light of developments in the Council of Europe and the European Union” in Greek Journal Piniki Dikeosini (Criminal Justice) 2/2003; page 178 – in Greek
* The "practical" tips are excerpts from the practical handbook by professor Nestor Courakis: "Feeling safe in a society of active citizens," Sakkoulas Publications, Athens; 2006 – in Greek.

[1] Christos Mylonopoulos: Professor of Law at the University of Athens. During the years 1992 – 1995 he taught international and European criminal law at the University of Munich as visiting Professor following an invitation from Professor Claus Roxin, whilst in 2008 he organized in conjunction with Professor U. Neumann an advanced class on criminal law and general theory of justice at the University of Frankfurt. His works have been translated into German, English, and Japanese. He administered the course in international criminal law at the Athens University Law School and co-wrote the related guidelines.

[2] Ioannis Beckas: Associate Professor of Law at the University of Thrace

[3] Irene Vassilaki: Lawyer - member of the Athens Bar Association, Lecturer at the Law School of the University of Göttingen, where she teaches Criminal Law and New Technology Law

[4] Ioannis Manoledakis: Professor Emeritus at the Law School of the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, Academic director of the journal of the “Armenoupolos” Thessalonica’s Legal Bar Association (1974-1988). Founder and director of the journal for criminal justice and structural liberties entitled “Yperaspisi” (Defence)  (1991-2000). In 2003 was voted into the Academy of Athens.

Emeritus Professor Calliope Spinellis
"Today, there are several well-qualified criminologists in Greece".

Victim offender mediation in family violence cases
The greek experience

by Vasso Artinopoulou,
Ass. Professor of Criminology,  Panteion University (GR) 
The article describes the implementation of victim offender mediation as provided by law in cases of domestic violence in Greece

Improving prison conditions in Greece
... by Nestor E. Courakis
Professor of Criminology & Penology
Faculty of Law, University of Athens (GR)
"This editorial is dedicated to prisons and the Greek penal system since we believe it is the duty of any society to give priority to correctional topics and have as its main objective to improve prison conditions.
How might this improvement be achieved, however?
With this issue we celebrate the English-language edition of the Greek electronic journal “The Art of Crime”. It would be trite to discuss here emotions such as elation and hope that of course are called for at a time like this. The overwhelming emotion, at least to me, is gratitude to the main protagonists of this first criminological electronic magazine in our country, i.e. to Fotios Spyropoulos and Dionysis Chionis ..."

Scientific colloquium on:
“Criminological Aspects of Migration in Greece”

"EPANODOS" (“Return” back to the society)
Rehabilitation Center for ex-prisoners
Presentation, challenges and objectives

Congress of the Greek Society of Criminology:
"Criminology and current challenges"

Combating discrimination and social exclusion:
the “EPAFI” (“CONTACT”) program, where young Law students meet young inmates...

Innocent prisoners and deceived offenders
"punishing somebody who is innocent is a crime"
Have you ever considered what it would be like to be wrongly arrested by the authorities, detained on remand, and after a few months it was proved that you had been wrongly accused and had nothing to do with the case? The issue of wrongful remand of prisoners came to light again in Greece with the case of a young man from the greek island of Mytilene who was arrested and prosecuted for rape and attempted serial rape of 5 women...

Constantine Gardikas
Constantine Gardikas, the son of George Gardikas, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Athens, was born in the city of Patras in 1896. Constantine Gardikas developed into a prolific scientist with a solid classical education.

He studied law in Athens, and he continued his studies in Zurich and Geneva specializing in criminal law and criminology.  He received his doctorate degree at the age of 22 and then started lecturing at the University of Geneva, Switzerland. ...
Problems of reoffending of young detainees
Conclusions of the follow-up research of the Center for Penal and Criminological Research (University of Athens)
 by Nestor E. Courakis
       Professor of Criminology
       University of Athens (GR)
This research was characterized as a follow-up because its main purpose was to discover first, what happened to Greek juvenile detainees with whom we had run interviews in the previous stage of the research (1993) ...

“Asking people…”
Interesting questions and even more interesting responses

The events that took place in late 2008, in Greece, in the state correctional facilities, the hunger strike of prisoners and the widespread violent protests concerning prison conditions didn’t leave us unaffected. So we found the opportunity to ask people’s opinion on this important issue. We take the recorder into the street ... and ask YOUR opinion:

"Do you believe there must be changes in the conditions of imprisonment in our country and if so, what should they be?”


The profile of a famous greek criminal through the eye of a camera, the lyrics of a song and his autobiography

A book, a song, and a movie with the same protagonist…
Nikos Koemtzis, a famous Greek criminal who killed three people and stabbed seven more, all because he wanted to dance to a song he had "ordered" from the musicians in a music hall. He transferred the story of his life to a book. Dionysis Savvopoulos (a famous Greek singer-songwriter) read the book and turned it into a song. Pavlos Tassios (a well known Greek director) heard the song and made a film. And now we present a criminologist’s scientific analysis of this artistic triptych.
A case study of a recidivist criminal
This is the interesting story of a recidivist criminal (Elias) who is incarcerated in a Greek prison. We managed to interview him, unattended, in late May 1999 in a special area in the guardhouse yard. The main topic of our conversation was his life story, the life of a young man through the prison bars… 


Constanteion - Centre of Criminology & Psychology Researches

Federation of Prison Officers

Professor Nestor Courakis

Ministry of Citizen Protection

I feel safe

Ministry of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights

Hellenic Supreme Court of Civil and Penal Law


Professor Giannis Panousis

Centre for Psychoanalytic Research

Sector of Criminal Sciences - Faculty of Law - National & Kapodistrian University of Athens

Association of greek criminologists - Panteion University

Centre of Social Research - Technological Education Institute of Messolonghi

Sector of Criminology - Panteion University

Sector of Penal and Criminological Sciences - Faculty of Law - Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

European Court of Human Rights - Search Portal

Hellenic League for Human Rights

Marangkopoulos Foundation for Human Rights

Faculty of Law - National & Kapodistrian University of Athens

Centre for Penal and Criminological Research

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