Articles Posted in Fraud

I was in need of money and told people I was raising money for a charity, but I plan to keep the money for myself instead of actually making the donation. Can I be charged with a crime?

The crime of wire fraud generally involves obtaining money, property, services, or something of value under false pretenses using electronic means of communication, including the internet, emails, text messages, social media websites, or wire transfers. Mail fraud is a similar offense, only the communications occur through the United States Postal Service or other carriers.

Wire fraud is illegal under both federal and Florida law. The Florida Communications Fraud Act criminalizes schemes to defraud, as described above. Under Florida law, a scheme to defraud is defined as “a systematic, ongoing course of conduct with intent to defraud one or more persons, or with intent to obtain property from one or more persons by false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises or willful misrepresentations of a future act.” In the situation described above, asking people for money for a charity while knowing that the money would not actually be turned over to that charity and instead used for other purposes would be an intentional scheme to defraud. Continue reading

I recently wrote a check and knew at the time that I did not have enough money in my bank account to cover the full amount. I was hoping that I could add enough funds to my account before the check was cashed to cover it, but I wasn’t able to and now the check has bounced. I know that my bank will charge me overdraft fees, but can I also be charged with a crime?

The short answer is it is possible. Under Florida law, there are many ways you could potentially face criminal charges for check fraud. For example, it is illegal to write a check or use a debit card while knowing at the time that there are insufficient funds in your account. It is also a crime to cash or deposit a check into your account with the intent to defraud, forge checks, forge signatures or sign someone else’s name on a check, or otherwise alter a check and then deposit it into your account or cash it. Writing a check and then improperly issuing a “stop payment” order on it to prevent it from being cashed is also a crime.  Issuing a worthless check or debit card order is a misdemeanor of the first degree punishable by up to one-year imprisonment and a fine if the amount is less than $150. If the amount is $150 or more, it becomes a felony of the third degree, punishable by up to five years imprisonment and a more severe fine. Cashing or depositing a check with the intent to defraud is also a felony of the third degree. All are theft and fraud crimes. Continue reading

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Over 50 people, including celebrities, CEOs, and administrators, have been charged following the long-running college admissions scandal. Those charged paid over $25 million to ensure their children were admitted to elite universities, including Yale, Stanford, Georgetown, and the University of Southern California, despite the students not having the qualifying credentials. Among those charged, the most notable are Lori Loughlin, from “Full House,” her husband and fashion designer, Mossimo Giannulli, and Felicity Huffman, from “Desperate Housewives.” Loughlin and Giannulli were indicted for allegedly paying $500,000 to have their two daughters designated as crew recruits to guarantee admission to USC, despite neither girl ever having done crew. Huffman, meanwhile, was indicted for allegedly paying an organization $15,000 to help her daughter cheat on the SAT. Continue reading

There has been a recent increase in arrests and prosecutions for health care fraud in Florida as a result of increased law enforcement efforts in investigating these crimes. Healthcare fraud largely involves medical providers committing fraudulent billing practices to increase their profits, including submitting charges for reimbursement to insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid for services that weren’t provided. Additional investigations include accepting illegal kickbacks for patient referrals and billing insurance companies under incorrect billing codes to increase the payments received.

On July 31, 2017, seventy-seven people were arrested in Florida for their involvement in various health care fraud schemes that totaled over $141 million dollars in fraudulent billing. These arrests were part of a larger investigation by the Medicare Fraud Strike Taskforce that resulted in 412 individuals facing charges for over $1.3 billion in false billings. These investigations involved a multi-agency effort, involving local law enforcement, the FBI, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, and the Florida Attorney General’s Office. Continue reading

It’s important to know what happens and what consequences one may face when being accused of insurance fraud in Florida. Although insurance fraud doesn’t seem as heinous as murder or burglary, it is still a crime that can result in a prison sentence of quite a few years. Insurance fraud is not a rare crime either. According to the Division of Insurance Fraud’s annual report, there was a total of 17,392 suspected fraud referrals and the court ordered a total of $51,203,744.42 in restitution in the 2014-2015 fiscal year; that includes health, vehicle, PIP and home insurance fraud, just to name a few. How exactly does insurance fraud affect others? I mean, if you didn’t do the crime, then you have no worries, right? Well, unfortunately this line of thinking is false. When insurance companies are forced to pay out millions of dollars for false claims, insurance premiums can go up. So, if the criminals are attacking the insurance company’s pockets, they are in the long run affecting yours as well.

Legal Definition of Insurance Fraud in Florida

So, what exactly is the legal definition of insurance fraud in Florida? Florida statute 817.234 gives the precise and detailed definition, but insurance fraud is essentially when a person knowingly presents false or misleading information to an insurance company with the intent to defraud or deceive the company. Examples would be a doctor giving a statement that exaggerates on the injuries a patient sustained in an auto accident or a doctor excessively charging the insurance company for services. While doctors found guilty of insurance fraud face the risk of losing their license to practice for about 5 years, a person participating in staging an auto accident could face a minimum of 2 years in prison. Continue reading

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