Fraud occurs when a person makes false statements, misrepresents information, or engages in deceitful conduct. People often commit fraud to gain something of value, usually money, by misleading or deceiving someone. If you face fraud charges, you are probably wondering how they will affect your future. Fraud can be charged as a state or federal crime, depending on the unique situation. When it’s charged as a federal crime, you’ll face the full force of the federal government’s resources and manpower.
Here, our Tampa criminal defense attorneys at Thomas & Paulk, P.A. share circumstances where fraud would be charged as a federal crime. In addition to reviewing this information, we recommend that you involve an attorney as soon as possible if you’ve been accused of or are under investigation for any type of fraud. You could face years or even decades in prison and heavy fines if you’re convicted. Exercise your right to legal counsel and give yourself a fighting chance at freedom.
When Is Fraud a Federal Crime?
Fraud may be charged as a federal crime if it is committed against the U.S. government, involves crossed state lines or national borders, or involves a violation of any crime under 18 U.S. Code, Chapter 47: Fraud and False Statements. This may include mortgage fraud, investment fraud, bank fraud, identity theft, mail fraud, tax fraud, Medicare fraud, securities fraud, and more.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common types of federal fraud crimes:
- Medicare Fraud: Medical programs like Medicare and Medicaid provide health insurance to millions of Americans. Since the government pays for most of these programs, they are often a target for fraud. People usually try to collect illegitimate reimbursements from the government by overbilling or performing unnecessary procedures.
- Securities Fraud: Various types of securities fraud, such as those involving foreign currency, investment schemes, and broker embezzlements, can be charged as federal crimes. Insider trading is also something that can be charged as a federal crime.
- Tax Fraud: This occurs when a taxpayer attempts to avoid paying federal income taxes. Tax evasion can be done in various ways, including overestimating business expenses, underreporting income, and not filing your taxes. According to the IRS, this is the most common type of fraud every year.
Intent & Federal Fraud Charges
With federal fraud charges (and virtually any crime), intent is a crucial part of building a case against a defendant. The federal prosecutor must prove that you intentionally and knowingly misrepresented or omitted information or otherwise committed fraud. Accidentally forgetting to fill out a part of your tax return, for example, should not constitute tax fraud. The prosecuting attorney must prove intent and an actual step or attempt toward the commission of fraud.
Along the same vein, however, we must note that you could face federal fraud charges for an attempt to commit fraud. Even if the attempt was unsuccessful—for example, if the scheme was uncovered before you made any money from it—you could still be charged with fraud.
Fraud as a Federal Crime: Potential Penalties
When fraud is charged as a federal crime, the penalties can be extreme. Mail fraud, as an example, is punishable by 20 years in federal prison and a fine. If it is committed against a financial institution, penalties may include up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. Specific penalties will vary depending on the type of fraud, who is affected or targeted by the fraud, and the amount of money or value of services involved. The number of individual instances of fraud, such as each overbilled item, each phone call, or each email, could also influence sentencing.
Call Our Tampa Fraud Defense Attorneys Today at (813) 321-7323!
When fraud is a federal crime, you face investigation by federal agencies like the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC). You face prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Federal agencies and prosecutors typically have more resources and experience than those at the state level. You need to be certain that your defense counsel is up to par, and that’s what our team at Thomas & Paulk provides.
Our lawyers are dedicated to helping people who face fraud charges. Our firm is a leading criminal defense in Hillsborough County. We offer reliable advice and representation to clients who’ve been charged with federal crimes. Our firm has handled over 7,000 criminal cases, and we have helped thousands of people get the best possible results for their cases.
When is fraud a federal crime? Call our Tampa fraud defense attorneys today at (813) 321-7323 to find out and to discuss the different options available for you!