Fraud is a legal term that covers a lot of territory. A charge for fraud could mean a range of different criminal allegations. Some examples can include bankruptcy fraud, cybercrimes, mail fraud, health care fraud, identity theft, mortgage fraud or loan schemes, student loan fraud and even retirement plan fraud and abuse.
At its most basic level, fraud means a deceptive act that results in personal gain. These crimes are often non-violent and are part of a larger group referred to as white-collar crimes.
Since these crimes are non-violent, the penalties aren’t severe, right?
The government has cracked down on white collar crimes. In a recent example, the feds have accused a Texas financier of using a Ponzi scheme to steal billions. The feds were able to build a successful case against the man, claiming he orchestrated an investment scheme that spanned 20 years. The prosecution essentially stated the man would provide false information to show investments continued to grow, thus soliciting additional investments.
The man was ultimately sentenced to 20 years for conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, 20 years for each of four counts of wire fraud, five years for conspiring to obstruct a United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation, and an additional five years for obstruction of an SEC investigation. He will serve the sentences consecutively. Additional sentences, that run along with those noted above, include 20 years for each of five counts of mail fraud and 20 years for conspiracy to commit money laundering. This totals 110 years imprisonment.
What should I do if I face allegations of fraud?
As noted in the example above, the penalties for these types of crime are very severe. As such, it is important to take allegations seriously. Defenses are available and will vary depending on the detail of the case but can include a thorough review of the methods used during the investigation and process leading up to the charges. A failure to follow accepted protocol can result in questionable and potentially inadmissible evidence. Legal counsel can review your situation and provide guidance on your options.