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What is Federal Program Fraud?

April 1, 2022 Federal Criminal Attorneys

The use of misinformation, false pretenses, or deceit to gain funds from a government agency is known as federal program fraud. Due to the seriousness of the offense, federal program fraud is aggressively prosecuted by the government. A conviction of this federal crime carries harsh penalties, including fines and imprisonment.

If you have been accused of federal program fraud, make sure to speak to an experienced defense lawyer. Without legal help, you could be facing serious consequences that can make a significant impact on your life.

The Definition of Federal Program Fraud
With federal program fraud, individuals have received federal money from a government program by using deceptive means. Under normal circumstances, the individual would not have been entitled to these benefits.

The government must show that the defendant acted with an intent to defraud a federal program. Along with that, the federal prosecutor must prove that the defendant knew that their actions would defraud a specific government entity.

A federally funded program includes programs that offer a loan, grant, entitlement, or other types of funding to qualified applicants. In many cases, there are administrative processes that can detect signs of fraud. However, those safeguards often do not recognize all indications of deception or fraud.

Any federal program fraud is a significant loss to the government. As a result, this crime carries substantial civil and criminal liabilities against anyone responsible for the fraudulent actions.

Federal Program Fraud Legislation
Federal prosecutors can indict someone for embezzlement under 18 USC 666 for theft over $5,000 of federal program money under the control of the government entity. That government program must have received at least $10,000 in federal funds for the given year.

The legislation provides a means to enforce prosecution against anyone who embezzles, steals, or commits fraud against a government entity that receives federal funds. However, some federal statutes are used to prosecute an individual for making a false statement to a federal agency, engaging in a conspiracy to defraud the government, or committing mail and wire fraud.

These statutes make it a federal offense to steal federal funds from a designated program. Along with that, it is a federal crime to misuse any property under the government’s custody.

The United States government takes federal program fraud very seriously, and the federal government will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law. Several federal offices have the power to investigate federal program fraud, such as the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), and the Inspector General Offices of various programs.

Federal Program Fraud Examples
Federal program fraud can occur in several forms, including:

Grant and research fraud: This crime includes falsifying grant applications, submitting fabricated test results, and misappropriating grant funds.

Bid rigging: This accusation involves eliminating fair competition for a government contract bid to increase the price.

Defense contractor fraud: The crime can include overcharging the federal government for services and products. The contractor can also use inferior materials to save on costs to increase their profit margin.

Medicare fraud: This crime involves obtaining health care using forged Medicare documents or charging the program for non-existent patients.

Some federal program fraud cases do not fit into these categories. These crimes can include:

Misusing student loan funding
Forging a signature on a social security check
Claiming welfare benefits for non-existent children

All of these situations are considered a form of federal program fraud.

Federal Program Fraud Penalties
While every fraud case is different, these penalties can be severe. In many situations, the fines can range from a few hundred dollars to several million dollars. Incarceration is often less common. However, it is reserved for some of the most severe offenses. Finally, additional financial penalties may involve paying restitution to the federal government.

Need Advice for Your Federal Program Fraud Case?
Any allegation of federal program fraud often results in a loss of freedom and money. A federal defense attorney can help to eliminate or reduce these charges against an individual.

Federal program fraud charges are serious. Remember that the federal government actively prosecutes these crimes. An experienced and knowledgeable defense attorney can craft a diligent defense strategy to give you a favorable outcome for your case.

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