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Is Fraud a Federal Crime?

You probably know that fraud crimes are typically financially-motivated and they involve some form of lying and deceit. The U.S. Department of Justice says, “Fraud occurs when a person or business intentionally deceives another with promises of goods, services, or financial benefits that do not exist, were never intended to be provided, or were misrepresented.”

In many cases, a fraud victim will hand over money for a product or service they never receive. This is common in fraud schemes that target the elderly. While fraudsters don’t exactly discriminate against a person because of their age, race, or geographical location, they will target groups because of their age, financial status, or geographic location.

Fraud Crimes are Under-Reported

“Millions of people in the United States are victims of fraud crimes each year,” says the DOJ. However, victims of fraudulent crimes often suffer in silence. The DOJ says that an estimated 15 percent of fraud victims will stay quiet because they’re embarrassed, feel guilty, or are in disbelief. A sense of betrayal and fear of what their friends or family will think about them are other reasons why victims fail to report the crime to law enforcement.

Fraud is Criminalized Under State & Federal Law

Fraudulent crimes are criminalized under state and federal law, which means they are prosecuted in the state and federal courts. That being said, what makes a fraud crime a federal case? It depends on a number of factors, such as: 1) how much money was stolen, 2) the type of fraud committed, 3) if federally regulated services were used, such as the U.S. Postal Service, and 4) if the crime occurred in one state or across state or national borders.

Common examples of fraud-related crime:

  • Tax fraud
  • Identity theft
  • Check fraud
  • Credit card fraud
  • Immigration fraud
  • Bankruptcy fraud
  • Healthcare fraud
  • Health insurance fraud

In some cases, a fraud crime is illegal under both state and federal law. In these situations, the state and federal prosecutor will decide whether to prosecute the defendant in state or federal court. If the case becomes a federal matter, the perpetrator faces more serious penalties than if he or she was charged with the same crime on the state level. Meaning, higher fines and a lengthier prison sentence.

Facing fraud-related charges in the East Bay? Contact the Law Office of Nabiel C. Ahmed for state and federal defense representation!

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