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My wife found/used a lost gift card and got caught. Will this affect residency?

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  • My wife found/used a lost gift card and got caught. Will this affect residency?

    Hi,

    I'm a US citizen and I've been married for 3 years to my wife. We are in the middle of AOS processing.

    I know this may be a silly question but I was hoping some of you might have some insight on this. My wife has absolutely no criminal record whatsoever and she came to the US legally.

    About 2 months ago she found an $80 gift card inside the restroom of a store she worked at and I convinced her to keep it. I understand this was a moral lapse but I don't want to make this post about the ethical status of using a gift card you find. The post is more about the legal and immigration ramifications. You see, the problem is the card was reported stolen.

    I don't know the legal definition of petty theft but it doesn't seem to me that what my wife did was steal. Yes, she used a card that didn't belong to her originally but she just found the card, she didn't take it from anyone. So I'm not even sure if it counts as stealing. I know we should have made an effort to turn it in and neither of us have ever done anything illegal, we don't even have speeding tickets. We convinced ourselves it was like finding a $20 bill in a parking lot and had a temporary moral lapse. So, after almost 2 months of doing nothing with the card, we just decided to go ahead and use it. That's when we got caught using it.

    Well, my wife lost her job as a result, which isn't really a big deal. However, her boss said that she would cooperate with the police and that she would tell them that the card had been reported "stolen" (i.e. not lost or missing, but stolen). She tried to make my wife sign a paper acknowledging that she had stolen the gift card from the original owner but my wife refused. I mean, my wife acknowledged that what she did was wrong and she felt very remorseful, but she didn't feel that she stole the card and I don't feel that's an accurate description of the events either.

    Nevertheless, we are worried about what this could mean for our immigration proceedings. My wife wasn't arrested or charged with anything, at least not yet; but we are still worried. My questions are:

    1) Is what my wife did considered stealing in any legally relevant sense?
    2) Will this effect her AOS proceedings?
    03-01-06 Met wife at a salsa dancing club
    07-12-06 Proposed
    08-19-06 Wedding, family and friends attend
    03-01-07 Celebrated 1 year together!!

    CIS local office - Denver, CO
    Service Center - MSC
    02-26-07 Filed for AOS (I-485), EAD (I-765), AP (

  • #2
    Hi,

    I'm a US citizen and I've been married for 3 years to my wife. We are in the middle of AOS processing.

    I know this may be a silly question but I was hoping some of you might have some insight on this. My wife has absolutely no criminal record whatsoever and she came to the US legally.

    About 2 months ago she found an $80 gift card inside the restroom of a store she worked at and I convinced her to keep it. I understand this was a moral lapse but I don't want to make this post about the ethical status of using a gift card you find. The post is more about the legal and immigration ramifications. You see, the problem is the card was reported stolen.

    I don't know the legal definition of petty theft but it doesn't seem to me that what my wife did was steal. Yes, she used a card that didn't belong to her originally but she just found the card, she didn't take it from anyone. So I'm not even sure if it counts as stealing. I know we should have made an effort to turn it in and neither of us have ever done anything illegal, we don't even have speeding tickets. We convinced ourselves it was like finding a $20 bill in a parking lot and had a temporary moral lapse. So, after almost 2 months of doing nothing with the card, we just decided to go ahead and use it. That's when we got caught using it.

    Well, my wife lost her job as a result, which isn't really a big deal. However, her boss said that she would cooperate with the police and that she would tell them that the card had been reported "stolen" (i.e. not lost or missing, but stolen). She tried to make my wife sign a paper acknowledging that she had stolen the gift card from the original owner but my wife refused. I mean, my wife acknowledged that what she did was wrong and she felt very remorseful, but she didn't feel that she stole the card and I don't feel that's an accurate description of the events either.

    Nevertheless, we are worried about what this could mean for our immigration proceedings. My wife wasn't arrested or charged with anything, at least not yet; but we are still worried. My questions are:

    1) Is what my wife did considered stealing in any legally relevant sense?
    2) Will this effect her AOS proceedings?
    03-01-06 Met wife at a salsa dancing club
    07-12-06 Proposed
    08-19-06 Wedding, family and friends attend
    03-01-07 Celebrated 1 year together!!

    CIS local office - Denver, CO
    Service Center - MSC
    02-26-07 Filed for AOS (I-485), EAD (I-765), AP (

    Comment


    • #3
      I am not 100% sure if that would be ruled stealing, afterall, if you find a cash bill, you can use it too. However, I don't know and really like to wait for the outcome on that one.

      I think you did a great job not to sign the paper. Don't ever admit to SOMETHING YOU DID NOT DO - or can be proofen 100%.


      You seem an honest fellow - good luck to you and your wife!
      “...I may condemn what you say, but I will give my life for that you may say it”! - Voltaire

      Comment


      • #4
        <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by davdah:
        When the boss said she would tell the police it was stolen. Did she say that in reference to an existing report. Or being spiteful?

        How was your wife caught? Was it an issue of the name coming up on the card and it not matching her. Or did the sirens go off as soon as she swiped it through the reader?

        This is touchy since the card owner may have made the report assuming it was stolen. The police may ask her how it was taken. If she is the least bit honest she'll say she isn't sure. That should kill the case right there. In order for there to be theft your wife would have had to remove it from the customer. Not found it. If the customer can't explain that the case may be dropped.

        Something else that may help is video tapes. Most stores have them. If it can be shown the lady went into the bathroom and left prior to your wife entering that should get her off.

        This isn't like finding a credit card and trying to use it. Difference is this card was already paid for and lost. Where as a credit card if used results in a charge to the customer after the fact. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

        Thanks for your input, I really appreciate it.

        My wife was caught because the name came up when she used the card. They told her the following day that they knew it was her because the card was flagged and when she used it, they caught her on camera.

        I don't think a report has been filed with the police yet. I think the manager just said to my wife something to the effect "I know about your situation regarding immigration but you have to know that our store cooperates with the police and we'll be telling them about all of this."

        My wife also just told me that in fact she found the gift card next to seat outside of the bathroom (not actually inside the bathroom) and that she even told the manager to review the tapes so she could see that she found the card. She didn't take it from the customer. So the video from the store will in fact show/prove that my wife found the card outside the bathroom on the floor.

        I'm just concerned it might somehow be considered stealing since my wife made no effort to turn the card back in and she ended up using it. I don't know what the legal definition of this is.

        In any case, even if it is considered stealing, it must, I think, be considered a minor infraction short of a misdemeanor. It has to be the lowest kind of petty offense, if it is an offense at all.

        Nevertheless, I'm no lawyer and I don't really know how serious immigration might consider this. It wouldn't surprise me if USCIS considered this moral turpitude just because every other experience I've had with USCIS has demonstrated to me that they try hard to keep people from getting residency.

        Should I be worried?
        03-01-06 Met wife at a salsa dancing club
        07-12-06 Proposed
        08-19-06 Wedding, family and friends attend
        03-01-07 Celebrated 1 year together!!

        CIS local office - Denver, CO
        Service Center - MSC
        02-26-07 Filed for AOS (I-485), EAD (I-765), AP (

        Comment


        • #5
          Hi Philosopher,

          I worked in a department store for awhile. Store security always tries to set their staff up for theft. Your wife, unfortunately, got caught in their trap. The $80 gift card did not belong to her - period. It's not like finding $20 in a parking lot. That card was registered to someone and she fell for it - sorry to say.

          Not sure if it will be CMIT, but it won't help to have this on her record. I hope it all comes out okay for you guys. Good luck.

          Comment


          • #6
            Interesting! Most Gift cards are not registered to any name. Most all the gift cards i have seen are Activated with NO knowledge of who paid for them. they are scanned to activate through third partys. same as cash. when you report one lost or stolen? You must have written down the card # and card Code. Or return to where you purchased the card with receipt. sometimes they enter the # to deactivate the gift card and Issue a new card.

            Something strange here???

            If you find a gift card and call the # on the back or check it online through the issuer? they do not have any record of ownership! No names!!! gift cards are like cash!!! If you found a gift card and notified issuer, they will not know who it initially belonged to! that Is why it is a GIFT CARD!!!! give to anyone!!

            what kind of gift card is the poster referring to????
            USC and Legal, Honest Immigrant Alike Must Fight Against Those That Deceive and Disrupt A Place Of Desirability! All Are Victims of Fraud, Both USC and Honest Immigrant Alike! The bad can and does make it more difficult for the good! Be careful who y

            Comment


            • #7
              MIR, it sounds like it may have been a prepaid Visa gift card.

              My parents sent them to us for Christmas and each one was registered to it's recipients name.
              **************************************
              The whole of life is but a moment of time. It is our duty, therefore to use it, not to misuse it - Plutarch

              Comment


              • #8
                <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Aroha:
                MIR, it sounds like it may have been a prepaid Visa gift card.

                My parents sent them to us for Christmas and each one was registered to it's recipients name. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

                that Is interesting also. Amex, Visa, mastercard Gift cards here are not registered to Individuals. no registration necessary. This is the first time I have heard of one being registered to an Individual. Maybe Is an Option??? Like Insurance? in case lost or stolen?? I use Visa gift cards Often!!! ONLINE purchases, safer than Registered cards with larger available $$$$. Never are they registered to Me. Swiped, Activated, ready to go.

                Another Question? never have i seen one for $80 dollars. All are in Increments of $25. many years ago here, they had re loadable visa etc. cards that are Registered. I believe those no longer exists here. They where not considered gift cards, they where secured credit cards. Prepaid credit cards. there Is a difference.

                Maybe this Is what the Poster Had????

                Aroha, the cards you received as gift had your Name imprinted on Them?????
                USC and Legal, Honest Immigrant Alike Must Fight Against Those That Deceive and Disrupt A Place Of Desirability! All Are Victims of Fraud, Both USC and Honest Immigrant Alike! The bad can and does make it more difficult for the good! Be careful who y

                Comment


                • #9
                  The ones we had were sent from New Zealand, so it could be slightly different.

                  I do believe though that it was an option. If the card wasn't registered to you, you had no way of being able to dispute any incorrect charges etc.
                  **************************************
                  The whole of life is but a moment of time. It is our duty, therefore to use it, not to misuse it - Plutarch

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Example: if i found a card that had a name on it other than mine, It would be theft to use the card.

                    If I found a card with no name imprinted on it It would be same as finding $80 dollars in the parking lot.

                    I think It Does Matter that the Original Poster make it clear Whether Or not It Had a Name??? Did They try to Find Owner ??? Something Is missing.
                    USC and Legal, Honest Immigrant Alike Must Fight Against Those That Deceive and Disrupt A Place Of Desirability! All Are Victims of Fraud, Both USC and Honest Immigrant Alike! The bad can and does make it more difficult for the good! Be careful who y

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      In the case of those Visa gift cards, there was no name on the front, however the way these worked was they were registered to the users' names and signed on the back.

                      If there was a signature on the back, then they shouldn't have been used by anyone other than the signer.

                      I'm not 100% certain, but I'm relatively sure the gift cards we sell at work are registered to a specific name.

                      Personally, I would have been inclined to return the thing to the customer service counter of whatever store. I know how I'd feel if I'd lost $80.
                      --------------------
                      "I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them. " - Thomas Jefferson

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by JermCool:
                        In the case of those Visa gift cards, there was no name on the front, however the way these worked was they were registered to the users' names and signed on the back.

                        If there was a signature on the back, then they shouldn't have been used by anyone other than the signer.

                        I'm not 100% certain, but I'm relatively sure the gift cards we sell at work are registered to a specific name.

                        Personally, I would have been inclined to return the thing to the customer service counter of whatever store. I know how I'd feel if I'd lost $80. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

                        Ok I See The inside now. Thanks Jerm.

                        There are cards through visa that were available for a short time here that had a limit of $250 where they were secured at place of purchase and signed on the back. No longer available here. Lasted a few months.

                        What I was Trying to figure Out, was there a name on the card that the poster had (Front or Back)??????????

                        It makes Sense where you reside for visa to have maintained the registered cards there.

                        I am Merchant of a Sort excepting Credit cards and try to Follow the Newest Info. available Concerning all cards in Use.
                        USC and Legal, Honest Immigrant Alike Must Fight Against Those That Deceive and Disrupt A Place Of Desirability! All Are Victims of Fraud, Both USC and Honest Immigrant Alike! The bad can and does make it more difficult for the good! Be careful who y

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Let me clarify,

                          It was not a visa card. No name was printed on the card and there was no signature on the card. We found out that the customer didn't actually pay for the card itself. In fact it was a gift card that had been given to the customer as store credit.

                          The only identification was a series of numbers on the card. I really have no idea how they tracked the card but somehow the numbers must be connected to the customer. Or maybe the customer remembered the numbers on the card.

                          Again, I'm not trying to argue the ethics of the case. We acknowledge that we didn't exercise perfect morals in the situation. We should have turned the card back in just as you shouldn't lie to your friend or cheat on your wife, etc. However, those things are not illegal. Moreover, a person won't be denied permanent residency, for example, just because he lies to his best friend about fooling around with his girlfriend. That person's action would be immoral but not illegal and would not affect his immigration status. Similarly, my wife's actions, though perhaps amoral if not immoral, don't seem like theft, which is illegal. It seems more like finding a bill in a parking lot and using the bill, which is not illegal. My wife didn't take the card from anyone. It was lost and she found it and used it.

                          What I'm trying to get insight on is not the morality of the situation but instead the legal and immigration ramifications. Are her actions more like finding $80 in a parking lot and using the money, which is not illegal and would not harm one's immigration proceedings. Or is it more like grand theft auto, burglary, etc. which would negatively affect one's immigration proceedings.

                          Keep in mind, if at some point my wife is charged with the crime, it would still be her first and only offense. And, legally, I think it wouldn't even count as a misdemeanor but rather as a minor infraction or something even smaller given that it was her first offense.

                          My question is, am I right in thinking that? Is it more serious than that? Would the courts see it as legally stealing and would that be enough to hurt her chances of becoming a permanent resident?
                          03-01-06 Met wife at a salsa dancing club
                          07-12-06 Proposed
                          08-19-06 Wedding, family and friends attend
                          03-01-07 Celebrated 1 year together!!

                          CIS local office - Denver, CO
                          Service Center - MSC
                          02-26-07 Filed for AOS (I-485), EAD (I-765), AP (

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Honestly, it's a matter of $80. This isn't qualifying of a criminal investigation. It could be brought up civilly, but that's not likely either due to the small amount.

                            Were the police involved at all?
                            --------------------
                            "I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them. " - Thomas Jefferson

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              If she's charged, it is going to be an issue. If not, then you have nothing to worry about.

                              The big question regarding charges is whether or not it's considered a CMT (Crime of Moral Turpitude) and theft generally is. Immigration doesn't always care what the outcome of a trial is - the charges are enough by themselves. We have more than a couple of people who frequent the board who can attest to that.

                              As it is, you and your wife did the wrong thing. If nothing comes of it other than her losing her job (and I'm inclined to agree with Proud that it was an internal security frame), you should be very grateful.
                              **************************************
                              The whole of life is but a moment of time. It is our duty, therefore to use it, not to misuse it - Plutarch

                              Comment



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