If you find yourself being charged with a fraud crime in Pasadena or throughout Southern California, depending on the nature of the offense and the amount of money at issue, you could be facing very severe and long-lasting consequences upon a conviction. You simply cannot afford to be without a defense attorney who has deep experience in your precise practice area.
At Pasadena Criminal Attorney, we have been successfully defending clients in Pasadena and the Greater L.A. Area against all manner of fraud crimes charges for many years, and we stand ready to come to your aid as well. Our detailed knowledge of California fraud statutes and our intricate familiarity with local court processes put us in a unique position to assist you in winning your case.
To learn more about California fraud crimes defense and to avail yourself of a free legal consultation, call us anytime 24/7 at 626-689-2277.
How Is "Fraud" Defined in California?
In California, "fraud" is defined legally as any act that a person commits that brings about an undeserved benefit to him or her self and/or inflicts some form of harm/loss on another person or entity.
For the most part, fraud crimes are motivated by either a desire to secure undeserved financial gain or by an attempt to escape responsibility for a previous criminal act.
However, the truth is that fraud crimes are a very wide legal category with many subdivisions and an endless array of specific motives and situations.
Most fraud crimes are considered "white collar" crimes, but this does not mean that only the wealthy or well to do commit them — in fact, the poor and middle class are just as likely to be charged with a fraud crime.
Most fraud crimes are prosecuted under California's theft, forgery, or perjury laws. They typically can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the facts of the case and the defendant's past criminal record. However, certain fraud crimes are always felonies, and some are federal as well as state-level offenses.
Sentences for fraud crimes often include heavy fines and significant jail or prison time. And there are also severe immigration consequences and the possibility of losing one's professional license.
Defense strategies vary, and at Pasadena Criminal Attorney, we always "customize" the defense to the exact details of each case. Nonetheless, there are some common basic defense types we use in many fraud crimes cases, including:
- Lack of fraudulent intent. It may have been a simple mistake or oversight.
- While the defendant did make a false statement or omission, the information was "not material" so as to likely affect the receipt of a benefit or the amount received.
- The defendant is the victim of false accusations or of identity theft.
- Police used illegal entrapment tactics to secure the prosecution's evidence or otherwise violated the defendant's rights. In this case, we can file a motion to suppress the evidence and likely get your case dismissed.
While we have covered fraud crimes in general just above, below, we will look at some of the most common particular types of fraud crimes in more detail.
Insurance fraud is extremely common, especially auto insurance fraud, but it is also an extremely varied category, given the great diversity of insurance types and specific insurance fraud scams. All insurance fraud involves either wrongfully obtaining an insurance benefit or (if committed by an insurer) wrongfully denying such a benefit.
We we look briefly at common categories of insurance fraud one by one just below.
Auto insurance fraud is often committed by staging an accident, exaggerating the value of a claim, or by destroying one's own automobile and then claiming it was stolen.
Health insurance fraud can mean submitting a false claim for a medical expense, but often, it is committed by health care professionals who charge for services never provided, over-bill or double-bill, or get kickbacks for prescribing particular drugs. Medi-Cal insurance fraud is a special class of health insurance fraud.
Unemployment insurance fraud is often committed by recipients who lie about the reason their employment ended, falsely claim they are actively searching for work, collect benefits while working at another job, or collect benefits in multiple states simultaneously. It can also be committed by employers who lie about why an employee left or about that employee's actual wages.
Welfare fraud is also listed under insurance fraud since state welfare programs area, in effect, a kind of "insurance for the poor." Recipient fraud occurs when someone lies to obtain an undeserved benefit; internal fraud occurs when a welfare agency employee colludes with those on the outside to wrongfully distribute benefits.
Workers comp fraud can also be committed by either workers or employers. Workers may fake or exaggerate the severity of an injury, submit a claim for a non-work-related injury, or fail to disclose a prior injury. Employers commit workers comp fraud by lying about an employee’s actual wages or denying the occurrence, extent, or location of an injury.
Real Estate Fraud
If insurance fraud is a variegated category, real estate and mortgage fraud is, perhaps, even more diverse. Any fraudulent activity of any type that has a connection to real estate counts as real estate fraud.
Foreclosure fraud is the most common type of real estate fraud in California. It occurs when a supposed real estate "consultant" claims he or she will prevent or delay a foreclosure for a homeowner only to walk away with a fee without doing anything to save the property.
Deed forgery occurs when a fake or wrongfully altered deed is filed or an attempt is made to file it in order to run a scam or to wrongfully seize possession of a property.
Predatory lending scams occur when lenders do not abide by California lending laws and when an attempt is made to charge excessive interest and fees without due regard to a borrower's ability to repay when giving out the loan.
Property flipping can be a legitimate business venture, but when the value of the resold properties is misrepresented to gain a higher pay-out from the purchaser, it is fraud.
Rent skimming is the practice of taking rent proceeds from properties you, perhaps, manage but do not own or of not paying on the mortgage of rental property during the 1st year after acquiring the property (unless for a medical or certain other emergencies).
Straw buyer scams involve getting someone to agree to co-sign for a loan for another person with poor credit (or for a non-existent person) and then, when the loan is approved, disappearing with the money, leaving the co-signer liable to repay the loan.
Some types of fraud that are committed to directly profit financially and are very much "of the essence" of the definition of fraud are termed "generic" or "general" fraud. Here are some of the most common types of generic fraud in California:
Check fraud, which involves counterfeiting or altering a paper check and presenting it for payment as if it were genuine. This differs from bouncing a check on purpose, which though an offense in itself, is not nearly as severely punished in most cases.
Credit card fraud. Both debit and credit cards are covered in this category and are called "access cards." Any attempt to use someone else's access card or its associated account information to wrongfully benefit financially is credit card fraud. Knowingly using a revoked or expired card, counterfeiting credit cards, or selling fraud credit cards are also forms of credit card fraud.
Securities fraud is the practice of giving out false, incomplete, or misleading information to investors in order to persuade them to make poor decisions in regard to stocks, bonds, and the like, so as to benefit financially from those poor decisions yourself.
Forgery and Identity Theft
When documents are forged or personal identification information of others is stolen in the process of committing fraud, it is either forgery or identity theft. Here are some common examples:
Forgery of a California public seal, or the seal of any other government or government agency, is a major fraud offense with severe consequences. The motive would be to lend seeming legitimacy to fake public documents that lead to your own financial gain.
Forgery of a California driver's license, or counterfeiting or wrongful alteration of the same, is also fraud. It may also be identity theft if you use someone else's name and personal information on the forged license.
False personation is the act of posing as another person for the purpose of securing an undeserved benefit for yourself at the expense of someone else. For example, using another person's name to gain welfare benefits would be false personation, which is a form of identity theft.
Internet fraud covers various types of fraud that take place online. Typically, it involves using someone else's access card to make online purchases, selling stolen goods online, purposefully spreading computer viruses and then offering anti-virus services to "solve the problem," impersonating another person in an online chat room,
Other Classes of Fraud
There are some types of fraud that simply do not fit well in any of the above-given general categories, so we list them here instead.
Senior fraud. This occurs when your commit elder abuse, in a financial way, against a person 65 years old or older or against a dependent adult under 65. Frequently, seniors are targeted because they are deemed "easier targets" and because they often have substantial life savings built up. Examples include scams by supposed contractors who never complete the agreed-upon construction job, real estate fraud schemes designed to rob seniors of their homes, funerary/cemetery fraud scams, and various telemarketing scams conducted over the phone.
Nursing home fraud is similar to senior fraud, but it involves an employee at a nursing home taking financial advantage of a resident senior. This may mean getting a senior to sign over his/her home on the promise of getting out of the nursing home, overcharging the senior for services, or forging the senior's name on a check.
Mail fraud is a federal offense and is punished very severely. It frequently occurs in conjunction with other types of fraud because it is defined as an fraudulent activity involving the use of the U.S. postal system. Common examples include: use of the mail system to advertise for fraud services, sending fraud checks via the mail, and purposefully not delivering an item ordered and paid for that was supposed to arrive via mail.
Handicap parking fraud. This occurs when a person illegally uses a handicap parking placard. It could be a forged placard or one that belongs to another person.
Vehicle registration fraud occurs when you tamper with or forge license plates, vehicle registration stickers, or vehicle registration cards in order to avoid paying the requisite fees.
Gambling fraud is the crime of using tricks, card games, and various gambling-related scams to take another person's money or property. Gambling fraud also includes cheating at cards and other forms of gambling and even fraud fortune telling activities.
Contact Us Today for Help
At Pasadena Criminal Attorney, we have the expertise necessary to win you the best possible outcome to your upcoming fraud crimes defense case. We have helped many others in the local area in situations just like yours to win dismissals, acquittals, or a reduced charge/sentence, and we can do the same for you.
Contact us anytime 24/7/365 for a free consultation and immediate attention to your case by calling 626-689-2277.