Fraud

Fraud Charges

Every year, employee fraud alone is estimated at $600 billion. Telemarketing fraud costs victims $40 billion annually. More than nine million adults are victims of identity fraud. Fraud can encompass a wide variety of categories, including: corporate fraud, securities and commodities fraud, health care fraud, investment fraud, check fraud, unemployment fraud, insurance fraud, consumer fraud, internet fraud, credit card fraud, mortgage fraud, telemarketing fraud, financial institution fraud, mass marketing fraud and asset forfeiture/money laundering. California Penal Code, §484-502.9 and §532a discusses fraud. Fraud can include:

  • Intentional misrepresentation- an intentionally or reckless false statement of fact, intention to defraud, or reliance upon a false statement resulting in damages
  • Negligent misrepresentation
  • Concealment- the failure to disclose or conceal a material fact with an intent to defraud the victim when the defendant had a duty to disclose
  • False promise-when a defendant made a promise and did not perform the promise and the victim was harmed as a result

Forgery

California Penal Code 470 PC prohibits forgery, or the altering of a written document with the intention to defraud. Forgery is when someone signs someone else's name without authorization, counterfeits the handwriting of another, corrupts a legal document, or falsely makes or counterfeits any legal, financial or notarized document. California forgery laws apply to acts that prejudice, damage or defraud someone out of money, property or legal rights.

If a prosecutor is able to show that you had an "intent to defraud" you could be found guilty of fraud. Defenses for individuals accused of forgery include lack of intent or that the alleged document wouldn't defraud another out of his/her rights. Forgery can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If a defendant is convicted of forgery, he/she can be forced to pay a $10,000 fine, pay restitution to victims, participate in community service and serve a prison sentence.

Furthermore, if you are charged with and convicted of at least two charges (or if you have two prior convictions), such as fraud and embezzlement, you could receive a sentence enhancement of two to five years in prison.

Insurance Fraud

Insurance fraud can involve car insurance, homeowners insurance, health insurance, or life insurance- just to name a few. When someone falsifies information concerning their insurance policy and receive payments they are not entitled to, insurance fraud has taken place. Insurance fraud can be prosecuted at either the state or federal level. Besides facing criminal charges, you could face a civil lawsuit under RICO (Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act).

Credit Card Fraud

Credit card fraud can include writing down someone's credit card number and using it to make purchases or stealing cards out of a person's mailbox. First time offenders of credit card fraud can be sentenced to 10 to 15 years in prison. If a defendant already had a credit card conviction on his/her record, the sentence could be 20 years. Misdemeanor credit card convictions result in a jail sentence of 11 months. Credit card fraud charges can either be a misdemeanor or a felony- depending on how a card was obtained and what amount was charged to the card. A defendant usually has to pay the amount of money stolen from the card and has to forfeit whatever equipment was used to commit the fraud- such as a computer, telephone or cell phone.

Internet Fraud

Internet fraud is also known as "cybercrime" and is one of the most recent forms of fraud. Because of the prevalence of internet fraud these days, the FBI has set up the Internet Crime Complaint Center. In 2010, the FBI and other organizations received over 300,000 complaints about internet fraud.

Internet fraud involves fraudulent schemes, phishing (or using the internet to obtain sensitive information) and accessing a computer or data without permission. Internet fraud often involves the stealing of a person's name, address and phone number, social security number, driver's license number, health insurance number, bank account number, pin or password, passport number, date of birth or any information commonly found on a birth or death certificate.

Many forms of internet fraud are "wobblers"- which mean they can be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or felony under California law. Regardless of the form of fraud charges you face- any fraud conviction can result in severe penalties. A fraud conviction can not only send you to jail, and cost you thousands of dollars- it will remain on your record for all future employers to see. If you want aggressive legal services on your side, contact Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich today!