The ABCs of Fraud
When people hear the word “fraud,” their first thought may be of a businessman in a cheap suit showing up at the door to sell fake knives. While this would be one accurate depiction of a fraud crime, the reality is that fraud encompasses a wide range of different activities in many different areas. Not only can fraud occur in finances, healthcare, taxes, and virtually every other industry, but there are many ways the State can charge people with fraud.
It’s important to remember that most people face situations nearly every day where another person could easily accuse them of fraud.
What Is Fraud?
In general terms, criminal fraud is defined under California law as any action that results in receiving an unfair or undeserved benefit for yourself, or causing harm or loss to another person. This is a simple definition, but it casts a wide net. In fact, fraud crimes can occur in so many different areas of business, there are unique laws according to each type. The various types of fraud crimes can include:
- Insurance Fraud: Someone can be charged with insurance fraud if there was any attempt, successful or not, to obtain benefits from an insurance provider that they were not entitled to. Cases of this type of fraud can be found in all forms of insurance, including automobile, healthcare, and unemployment.
- Credit Card Fraud: This type of fraud covers any instance in which a credit or debit card is used to conduct a fraudulent transaction. For example, when someone uses a credit card that he found on the ground to purchase an item, or knowingly uses a credit card that has been revoked, this can constitute credit card fraud.
- Real Estate Fraud: Anyone who falsely represents information during a real estate transaction for their own personal gain can be guilty of real estate fraud. This can include anything from foreclosure fraud and taking advantage of borrowers to forging deeds and illegally flipping houses.
- Mail Fraud: As the name suggests, mail fraud constitutes any use of the United States Postal Service when committing a crime. Traditionally, actions such as identity theft, falsifying government documents, and Ponzi schemes would qualify as mail fraud, but there is also “honest services fraud,” which falls under the same umbrella as mail fraud. Honest services fraud is a complex federal crime that comes into play any time a victim’s “intangible rights” were taken from them. Examples include a public official who accepts a bribe, or anyone who abuses a position of authority.
Fraud Laws in California
Fraud usually falls under the category of white-collar crimes, which can be difficult to prosecute depending on the circumstances of the case. Oftentimes, fraud crimes are considered “wobbler” crimes under California law, meaning they can be treated either as misdemeanors or felonies. If you are charged with a fraud crime, it can become very complicated and very frustrating to defend yourself without the help of an experienced and talented defense team.
At Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP, our attorneys have been recognized numerous times as some of the top white-collar crime lawyers in Los Angeles. Whether the offense you are charged with involves tax, healthcare, real estate, or another type of fraud, we are committed to providing you with the most strategic and effective criminal defense so you can fight the charges and avoid the long-term consequences of a fraud conviction. To learn more, give us a call at (213) 688-0460.