Criminal fraud involves a scheme to deceive or cheat another individual or entity to obtain a financial gain or other similar types of gain. Criminal fraud is classified as a white-collar crime.
Under criminal fraud laws, any action intended to deceive another through false representation or fact that results in a detriment to the individual who relied on that information may be considered an act of criminal fraud. If an individual knowingly lies about an important fact in a relationship or transaction and the other party relies on that misrepresentation and suffers harm, fraud has occurred.
Fraud does not occur when an individual provides a fact they believe is true, even if they are mistaken.
Are there Different Types of Fraud?
There are many different types of fraud. However, the basic elements of fraud remain the same across the types.
Examples of fraud may include, but are not limited to:
The basic component of all of the different categories of fraud is that criminal fraud occurs when:
- An individual conceals or lies about a material truth;
- Another party or entity justifiably relies on that false information; and
- That party suffers an injury based on their reliance.
There are several elements of criminal fraud, including:
- There was a misrepresentation of a material fact;
- By an individual who was aware that the material fact was false;
- And intended to defraud;
- A person or entity who justifiably relied on the misrepresentation of fact; and
- The party suffered actual injury or damages as a result of their reliance on the false fact.
What is the Difference Between Criminal Fraud and Civil Fraud?
The basic elements of fraud in civil and criminal fraud cases are the same. Criminal fraud convictions, however, may result in criminal fines or jail time.
Criminal law cases also have a higher standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. For a defendant to be convicted, each element of a criminal fraud crime noted above must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Whether or not the fraud was successful in a criminal fraud case does not matter. The mere fact that the individual attempted to and intended to commit fraud is enough.
Depending on the facts of the case and the jurisdiction, criminal fraud may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony offense. In a civil fraud case, the victim, or plaintiff, must prove the fraud elements noted above and prove that they suffered damages due to that fraud.
The difference between a civil and criminal fraud case is that in a civil case, the individual must prove actual damages; in a criminal case, the prosecution only needs to prove that the defendant attempted to commit fraud.
What if I have Been Accused of Criminal Fraud?
A conviction for criminal fraud may carry serious consequences. The penalties for a conviction of criminal fraud may vary depending on the following:
- The jurisdiction;
- The severity of the fraud;
- The person or entity that was a victim of the fraud; and
- The amount of property or money that was lost as a result of the fraud.
A conviction of criminal fraud may result in penalties such as:
- Jail or prison time;
- Probation or parole;
- Fines; or
A court will consider several factors when determining sentencing for a criminal fraud conviction, including:
- The severity of the fraud;
- Whether the defendant has any prior convictions;
- If the defendant is currently on parole or probation;
- The amount of property or money that was stolen; and
- The person or entity that was the targeted victim.
The penalty for criminal fraud may also be influenced by the attitude of the community and the court toward this type of crime. If the federal government was the victim of the fraud, the charges may be brought under federal laws instead of state laws and may result in harsher penalties.
What Should I Do If I am a Victim of Criminal Fraud?
If an individual believes they are a victim of criminal fraud, they should contact their local law enforcement agency and report that fraud has occurred. If there is enough evidence, the fraud case will go to the local prosecutor or district attorney’s office so the individual who committed the fraud can be prosecuted.
Keeping records of any and all losses resulting from the fraud is important. It is also important to consult an attorney to determine if a victim can pursue civil and criminal fraud cases.
What is Work at Home Fraud?
Work-at-home fraud is like many other scams that are used to make money. This type of fraud is distinguished by the importance of finding recruits to participate in the scheme.
A scam artist who facilitates this scheme requires that potential participants join the company for a discounted price. The potential buyer is promised to be able to receive information on how to work at home and earn thousands of dollars.
However, the upfront costs are substantial. Many individuals who subscribe never see the products they were promised and lose hundreds of dollars, if not more.
Why are Work at Home Frauds Successful?
Work-at-home frauds are successful because many potential buyers become enamored with the great deal promised. Many participants write checks in large amounts with the promise of receiving years of profits and being able never to leave the comfort of their own homes.
What Steps Can I Undertake as a Victim?
Individuals should be aware that these business adventures constitute a type of fraud. Because of this, knowingly participating in work-at-home fraud is a criminal offense.
There are a couple of steps a victim can undertake, including:
- Contacting the police: Because work-at-home businesses can constitute fraud, local law enforcement officials may be able to determine the founders of the scheme to return money to the rightful owners; and
- Contacting the federal trade commission: The FTC regularly assists the Justice Department in prosecuting work-at-home business fraud. If a work-at-home fraud has reached across state lines, the federal government has jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute those individuals.
What Should I Do if Someone Might be Attempting a Fraud?
An individual should remember that work-at-home fraud may extend to all different areas. Because of this, an individual needs to ask questions regarding how the proposed offer will work.
An individual should consider whether the promise of a great return is possible or feasible. In many situations, an individual asking themselves questions and considering what another party offers may prevent them from being defrauded.
Should I Consult an Attorney?
If you believe you have been the victim of a work-at-home business fraud, it is important to consult with a fraud attorney. Your attorney can help you recover the money you may have lost to the fraud scheme operator, assuming that the individual or individuals can be located. They can also keep you updated on any changes to the law that might affect your rights, and can represent you in court in case there is a legal dispute.