You may hear or read news reports of individuals being accused of “fraud.” Fraud can refer to many acts, all of which involve the element of deceit or dishonesty with the intent for wrongful personal gain, usually financial gain. In some cases, fraud allegations may be filed in civil court, with the fraud victim seeking to recover the funds lost due to the fraudulent acts. In other situations, however, fraud may rise to the criminal level and the state or federal prosecutor may file charges in criminal court.
Pennsylvania does not have one specific charge of criminal fraud, but instead the state law sets out numerous crimes that fall under the category of “fraudulent practices.” Each different crime has its own elements and potential penalties, which can vary based on the amount of money that was in question in the alleged fraud. The following are only some of many examples of criminal fraud.
Identity theft — Identity theft occurs when one individual misappropriates another individual’s personal or financial information. This can be accomplished in many ways, including through internet phishing, mail theft, using card scanners, and other schemes that persuade someone to reveal personal information. The information can then be used in many ways, including applying for financial accounts, making purchases, or even giving false names and information to authorities.
Securities fraud — Securities fraud is also commonly referred to as investment fraud, and there are many different securities schemes that are intended to take money from investors. Some of the many types of securities fraud include:
- Insider trading;
- False corporate reporting;
- Pyramid schemes;
- Ponzi schemes;
- Internet investment schemes;
- Accounting fraud;
- Boiler rooms;
- Dummy corporations;
- Other forms of corporate or broker misconduct.
The two most notorious securities fraud schemes involved convicted fraudster Bernie Madoff, associated with the largest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history, and the corporate fraud of Enron in 2001.
Tax and Bankruptcy fraud — The United States government does not take it lightly when individual try to defraud a government agency. One of the most common types of government fraud is tax fraud, which occurs when a person or business intentionally makes false statements or omissions on their tax returns to avoid paying taxes. Similarly, bankruptcy fraud occurs when a bankruptcy filer intentionally uses false information or omissions to improve the resolution of their bankruptcy case.
Healthcare fraud — Healthcare fraud refers to any attempt to make a wrongful profit through false health care claims. Suspects of health care fraud can be medical professionals or by patients and schemes can involve receiving kickbacks, false billing, selling prescription drugs on the black market, and much more. Healthcare fraud often involves Medicaid and other government programs, so such fraud charges are often aggressively pursued by federal and state prosecutors.
Credit card fraud — Anytime someone uses a credit or debit card without permission, they may be accused of credit card fraud. This can include attempting to make purchases with a stolen card or using a card to fraudulently access another person’s account. This can also include applying for a credit using false information or using scanners to copy credit card numbers. Credit card theft is often charged alongside identity theft and defendants may face serious penalties for each charge.
Mail or wire fraud — This charge encompasses any type of fraudulent act that utilizes the U.S. mail system or “wire,” which can refer to telephone or internet communications. Mail and wire fraud are generally charged under federal law and can have serious consequences, which will be in addition to penalties for other, more specific fraud charges.
Call an Experienced White Collar Crime Defense Lawyer for Help Today
No matter what type of fraud is alleged in your criminal charges, it is critical that you have a defense attorney on your side who understands white collar crime laws in Pennsylvania. Fraud cases tend to involve an extensive amount of investigation and evidence and you need representation by someone who can address and challenge such complex evidence. At The Zeiger Firm, we have helped many people in and around Philadelphia fight against a variety of white collar crime charges, including fraud-related charges. If you have been arrested or believe you are being investigated for a crime, do not delay in calling our office at 215-546-0340 to discuss your case.