Fraud is a term used to describe a range of fraudulent or dishonest criminal behaviors. When committing a fraudulent act, the offender uses intentional deception for personal gain. Acts of fraud can be committed against another person, but often take place against an entity, such as a business or government sector.
From willful misleading to lies
While acts of fraud involve dishonesty, it is important to note that not every dishonest action constitutes fraud. To qualify as fraud, the perpetrator must willfully misrepresent information, such as by making a false statement or outright lying, to deprive another. Fraud is used most often for property or monetary gain but could involve less quantifiable benefits. For instance, a person charged with committing constructive fraud may have breached their fiduciary duty.
Crimes falling under the fraud umbrella include:
- Computer and internet fraud
- Mail fraud
- Identity theft and credit card fraud
- Insurance fraud
- Tax evasion
- Securities fraud
- Insider trading
The jurisdiction for fraud and other white-collar crime cases depends on the offense. Financial fraud cases frequently cross state lines or use wire technology, making them a federal offense. Under the dual sovereignty doctrine, someone accused of fraud could be serially prosecuted by two sovereign governments. For example, if the fraudulent act violated both federal and state laws, prosecution from both entities would not violate the double jeopardy standard.
Jeopardizing your future and your livelihood
Expensive fines, significant prison sentences and the possibility of asset forfeiture await those convicted of fraud. The punishments for federal crimes are significantly higher and you must serve 85 percent of your sentence in prison if incarcerated. A skilled fraud defense lawyer can help you understand the charges against you and suggest a defensive strategy.