Fraud Charges

Tampa Fraud Defense Lawyers

Accused of Fraud? Our White Collar Crime Attorneys Can Help.

If you have been charged with fraud, talking to an attorney is one of the first steps you should take in this serious situation. There are many different types of fraud. At Thomas & Paulk, we are experienced in representing clients facing these charges. You can count on us to help. It does not matter if formal fraud charges have not yet been filed against you. You may be in danger of facing criminal charges once you are the subject of an investigation for any type of fraud. The only thing you can do to ensure an opportunity at a positive case result is involve a competent Tampa fraud defense lawyer who can effectively handle every aspect of your case.

Serving Tampa and the surrounding areas in Florida, we can handle charges involving and not limited to:

  • Accounting fraud
  • Bank fraud
  • Tax fraud
  • Mail and wire fraud
  • Securities fraud
  • Investment fraud
  • Government fraud
  • Bankruptcy fraud
  • Insurance fraud

Talk to a Tampa Fraud Defense Attorney Today

A defendant may face legal proceedings in civil and/or criminal court involving fraud. Fraud is a criminal offense, and a defendant may be at risk of imprisonment, fines, and other penalties if convicted in criminal court. These charges are brought against the defendant by the government. The victim(s) of fraud may also file charges against the defendant in civil court, seeking monetary compensation for their alleged losses. As fraud may have civil and criminal repercussions, seeking legal counsel is all the more critical. Make sure you waste no time involving an attorney who can work to protect your legal rights and your interests to help you avoid imprisonment in state prison, fines, probation, victim restitution, and much more.

For more information and a free initial consultation, call our Tampa fraud defense lawyers at (813) 321-7323.

Types of Tampa, FL Fraud Charges

Accounting Fraud

Accounting fraud refers to the falsifying of accounting records. Individuals commit this crime to boost their net income, adjust sales figures, or hide income, intentionally manipulating records for financial gain, often misleading shareholders, investors, and others. Companies may be accused of this crime if they're thought to have committed unlawful acts to try to meet the Security and Exchange Commission's earning standards.

Some professionals are more likely to be accused of accounting fraud. This includes:

  • Accountants
  • Auditors
  • Bookkeepers
  • Company executives
  • Contractors
  • Freelance workers

Accounting fraud can result from channel stuffing, which is selling at the end of the quarter what is necessary to meet the company's forecast. Revenue recognition occurs when a company recognizes revenue before its actual existence. Another common type is when the accountant omits data to create false statements. If books are kept open after the completion of a quarter in hopes of making up the difference, this may be accounting fraud.

Bank Fraud

If you have been charged with bank fraud, it is crucial to understand your charge, the penalties, and the possible defenses. One of two conditions must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt for the charge to turn into a conviction. The first is that the defendant knowingly executed a scheme to defraud a bank or a different financial institution. The second is that the defendant knowingly executed a scheme to obtain assets in the possession of a financial institution.

A wide range of criminal conduct that can be prosecuted as bank fraud:

  • Altered checks
  • Credit card fraud
  • Debit card fraud
  • Identity theft
  • Stolen check fraud
  • Gift card fraud

Each count of bank fraud can be prosecuted as a separate crime in Florida, with its own penalties. This can increase a resulting sentence.

Bankruptcy Fraud

An individual filing for bankruptcy can be charged with fraud if they provide false information, misrepresent debt or property, file multiple times, or otherwise try to misuse the bankruptcy process. Not only may the bankruptcy petition be declined, but the debtor can face severe penalties. Most cases involve debtors who attempt to hide assets.

A bankruptcy attorney can also be responsible for filing incorrect paperwork on behalf of a client. If discrepancies are found on a bankruptcy petition, anyone involved can be charged for these fraudulent practices. After a trustee believes the debtor has hidden assets, funds, or property, an investigation can take place. There are various fraudulent practices that can occur, including the transferring of real property or sums of money to children or other family members, filing multiple cases in different states, and using stolen Social Security identification.

Credit Card Fraud

Credit card fraud is a serious felony charge that is aggressively handled by Tampa law enforcement officers and prosecuting attorneys.

In Florida, a person may face credit card fraud charges for:

  • Physically taking another's credit card
  • Counterfeiting or altering a credit card
  • Accessing another's electronic data
  • Making false statements as to the ownership of the card
  • Using a lost or mislaid credit card
  • Receiving anything as the result of credit card fraud

Credit card fraud also often includes the charge of identity theft. There are a few ways that this can occur, including using forged credit cards, opening a new credit card account using another's information, stealing another's credit card data, and using credit card data without authorization while making online purchases.


Embezzlement charges typically accuse an accountant, manager, or another person in a position of trust of purposefully redirecting or taking money for personal gain. This can also be committed by any employee of a company.

In Florida, embezzlement may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony:

  • First-degree felony if $100,000 or more was stolen. This sentence could mean 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
  • Second-degree felony if anywhere between $20,000 to less than $100,000 went missing. This sentence could entail 15 years of incarceration plus a $10,000 fine.
  • Third-degree felony if $300 to less than $20,000 of property was stolen. This sentence could lead to 5 years imprisonment and a $5,000 fine.
  • First-degree misdemeanor if somewhere between $100 to less than $300 was taken. This could entail a sentence of 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
  • Second-degree misdemeanor if less than $100 or certain types of property were embezzled. This could mean 60 days in jail and a $500 fine

Government Fraud

Government fraud refers to the intentional act of taking government funds through scams or deceit. In some cases, both criminal and civil charges will be brought against the alleged offender. The individuals that are the first to report government fraud are called whistleblowers. They often share in the awards from the cases. There are many different ways that fraud against the government can take place. Some of the most common are procurement fraud, false claims, and Medicaid/Medicare fraud.

Our team is prepared to help with charges of government fraud involving:

  • Failure to obtain licensing
  • Failure to obtain data rights
  • Fraudulent accounting
  • Corruption in scandals
  • Defective pricing
  • Filing false claims

There are many costly types of fraud actions that lead to the government getting swindled. When this takes place, taxpayers end up paying the price. The Federal False Claims Act makes it against the law to present a false claim to defraud the government. This Act imposes liability on those who knowingly present the claim. However, they can still be charged if they act recklessly toward ensuring that the information submitted is accurate.

Healthcare Fraud

Healthcare providers have recently become a primary target of government scrutiny. Healthcare fraud is becoming a significant issue. Those who are convicted face heavy fines and possible jail time. With the increase in healthcare legislation, our Tampa fraud defense attorneys work to get criminal investigations to cease to prevent criminal charges from being filed. Penalties may include prison time, fines, and the loss of your medical license. If you do not secure a qualified attorney, you risk facing prosecution and severe penalties.

Some examples of healthcare fraud include:

  • Overbilling for medical services
  • Charging for services that were not provided
  • Falsifying a patient's records
  • Performing an unnecessary surgery/procedure

These types of healthcare fraud are typically charged concerning dentists, doctors, pharmacists, and other individuals who offer healthcare services. It also involves prescription fraud, when pharmacists bill for prescriptions that were not actually given.

Insurance Fraud

If you aren't careful, you could be charged with committing insurance fraud, even if what happened was unintentional and unplanned. 

Insurance fraud occurs is when an individual/group deceives an insurer for profit. One common cause of insurance fraud charges is when an insurance holder holds an asset that they are over-insured for something, meaning the insurance payoff would be greater than the property's value. Individuals in this situation who file a claim may be accused of causing an incident that would allow them to collect on the insurance policy and make a profit. 

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau statistics, fraudulent insurance claims throughout Florida increased 119% from 2008 through 2010. They rose an astonishing 491% in Tampa, making the city the nation's epicenter for staged auto accidents. This investigation may signify the first of many efforts by law enforcement and prosecutors alike to crack down on alleged insurance fraud in Florida.

Investment Fraud

The government views investment fraud as a scheme that induces a victim to invest money in an asset that does not exist or is not what it was proposed. Stockbrokers and other professionals face the risk of being accused of investment fraud.

Acts of investment fraud involve a wide range of conduct, such as:

  • Accounting fraud
  • Misrepresentation
  • Mutual fund fraud
  • Timeshare fraud
  • Estate financing fraud
  • Real estate fraud
  • Prime bank fraud
  • Share/shareholder fraud

Many laws govern fraudulent investment. Penalties are outlined in:

  • Securities Act of 1933
  • Securities Act of 1934
  • Investment Company Act of 1940
  • Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002

Mail Fraud

Mail fraud is a non-violent theft crime and white collar crime. These crimes use U.S. mail or wire services as part of a scheme to defraud other individuals. Those under investigation for the federal criminal offense of mail fraud are suspected of defrauding others by way of the U.S. mail, Federal Express, United Postal Service (UPS), or other private and public carriers.

Mortgage Fraud

Mortgage fraud is a type of fraud done to obtain favorable monetary results through deception. It constitutes the omission of information on mortgage loan applications and the misrepresentation of facts about a loan. Many of these cases involve a suspicion that the defendant provided them false information that would help them obtain a larger loan than they are qualified for, based on their current economic status. In general, mortgage fraud pertains to providing false information on loan or mortgage documents. 

There are a variety of fraudulent activities that constitute mortgage fraud, including:

  • Employment fraud
  • Occupancy fraud
  • Appraisal fraud
  • Cash-back schemes

Organized Fraud

Organized fraud is fraudulent activity committed by an organized group; it is charged under § 817.034, which is the Florida Communications Fraud Act. Two common examples include phishing and spoofing. If the sender impersonates an actual company to obtain personal or financial information, this can also be charged as identity theft. If you are found guilty, you may be facing elevated penalties for additional charges, such as wire fraud. 

The penalty will depend on the value of money, services, or goods. You could face up to 30 years in prison and fines of up to $1 million. The victim of the fraud may also be able to seek financial restitution. 

Prescription Fraud

According to The Wall Street Journal, Florida has the highest number of laws concerning prescription drugs of any state. This superabundance of legislation on prescription medication is mainly due to this state's role in the nationwide explosion of prescription drug abuse. For years, Florida was the top destination in the U.S. for "prescription tourists," drug dealers and addicts who would come to the then-unregulated pain clinics to obtain a prescription for powerful painkillers such as oxycodone and Vicodin. The problem included the easy flow of prescription medications into other states and widespread drug abuse.

The proliferation of laws to combat prescription drug abuse has resulted in measures such as the prescription drug abuse monitoring program, a system that provides law enforcement with access to information concerning the prescription, dispensing, and consumption of these drugs. The goal is to catch doctors and patients alike who exceed the boundaries of medical necessity and sell or purchase prescription drugs for non-medical and recreational use.

There are two primary targets: pill mills and doctor shoppers. The first term describes physicians, pain clinics, and pharmacies that unscrupulously dispense large quantities of pain meds and other pharmaceutical drugs, usually with money being the primary concern rather than the patient's health. Doctor shopping, in comparison, describes the activity of visiting several doctors with the same physical complaints to obtain multiple prescriptions.

Tax Evasion, or Tax Fraud

Getting charged with tax evasion means a person is accused of purposefully withholding the payment of federal, income, state, sales, or employment taxes. 

Tax evasion includes:

  • Failing to report income of any kind/underreporting income
  • Reporting illegal income as coming from a legal source
  • Inflating or falsifying a tax deduction
  • Overvaluing property intentionally
  • Omitting property when filing
  • Not filing taxes at all

Under federal law, a defendant may face felony charges for attempting to evade the payment of taxes. This can be punished with imprisonment for up to 5 years and a fine of up to $100,000 ($500,000 if a corporation). Failing to file a tax return is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months imprisonment and a fine of up to $25,000.

Wire Fraud

Wire fraud is a federal crime when an individual intentionally schemes a plan to defraud individuals of property or finances. It is done using wires such as the Internet, phone lines, and financial wire transfers. Wire fraud is a serious federal crime that will be brought forward by the Department of Justice. 

A federal wire fraud conviction can include a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and up to a $ 1 million fine.

An individual can be found guilty of wire fraud if a few factors are proven true beyond a reasonable doubt. The first is that the individual willingly devised a scheme to defraud or obtain money through false pretense. The second the individual knowingly transmitted data by wire in interstate commerce, which had the direct purpose of defrauding. Finally, the government must prove that the individual knowingly devised the scheme. Every use of the interstate wire to further the scheme will constitute its own offense.

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.

These Chapter 47 Fraud & False Statements crimes may include:

  • Mortgage fraud
  • Investment fraud
  • Bank fraud
  • Identity theft
  • Mail fraud
  • Tax fraud
  • Medicare fraud
  • Securities fraud
  • And more

The amount of money stolen, the type of financial fraud, the location of the crime, and the use of the U.S. Postal Service, Medicare, or the Internet can also affect whether a case is prosecuted on the state or federal level.

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.

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, P.A. provides. If you're facing state or federal fraud charges in Tampa or Hillsborough County, contact us online or at (813) 321-7323 today start on your defense.

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