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The Spodek Law Group understands how delicate high-profile cases can be, and has a strong track record of getting positive outcomes. Our lawyers service a clientele that is nationwide. With offices in both LA and NYC, and cases all across the country - Spodek Law Group is a top tier law firm.

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Federal Fraud Charges

By Spodek Law Group | October 19, 2023
(Last Updated On: October 20, 2023)

Last Updated on: 20th October 2023, 09:41 am

Federal Fraud Charges: An In-Depth Look

Federal fraud charges are no joke – they can lead to serious fines, restitution, and years behind bars. With fraud cases on the rise, it’s important for everyone to understand what constitutes federal fraud, how charges are brought, and what defenses may be available. This article provides a comprehensive overview of federal fraud laws and charges so you can protect yourself and your business.

What is Federal Fraud?

Federal fraud refers to crimes involving dishonesty or deception that violate federal statutes. Common types of federal fraud include:

  • Wire fraud – Using electronic communications like email or text to obtain money or property under false pretenses
  • Mail fraud – Misusing the postal service to carry out a scheme to defraud
  • Bank fraud – Knowingly carrying out a scheme to defraud a bank or obtain bank funds illegally
  • Securities fraud – Deceiving investors when selling or promoting stocks
  • Healthcare fraud – Defrauding Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurers
  • Mortgage fraud – Misrepresenting information on a mortgage application
  • Credit card fraud – Using stolen or fake credit cards to make purchases
  • Tax fraud – Intentionally underpaying taxes owed through deception
  • Identity theft – Using someone else’s personal information to open accounts or make purchases

Federal fraud laws are broad, allowing prosecutors to go after many types of financial crimes across state lines. The penalties tend to be more severe than state charges.

How are Federal Fraud Charges Brought?

Federal fraud cases typically begin with a criminal investigation by agencies like the FBI, IRS, or Department of Justice. They build evidence through methods like:

  • Surveillance
  • Undercover operations
  • Informants
  • Subpoenas for financial records
  • Interviews with victims and witnesses

Once sufficient evidence is gathered, prosecutors will obtain an indictment from a federal grand jury outlining the charges. Common charges in fraud cases include:

  • Conspiracy to commit fraud
  • Money laundering
  • Making false statements
  • Obstruction of justice

Defendants then have a chance to plead guilty or take the case to trial. Fraud trials often involve analyzing complex financial records, testimony from victims, and debates over intent.

Penalties for Federal Fraud Convictions

A federal fraud conviction can lead to:

  • Prison time – Sentences range widely based on the amount stolen and number of victims. Many fraud schemes carry 5-30 year sentences.
  • Fines – Most federal fraud statutes authorize fines up to $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for organizations.
  • Restitution – Courts order repayment to victims for their losses.
  • Asset forfeiture – Authorities can seize property connected to the criminal activity.
  • Loss of licenses – Convicted professionals may lose licenses needed for their work.

Judges consider sentencing factors like the sophistication of the fraud, number of victims, loss amounts, and whether the defendant accepts responsibility.

Federal Fraud Case Examples

Some notable federal fraud prosecutions include:

  • Bernie Madoff – Ran a $65 billion Ponzi scheme and was sentenced to 150 years in prison.
  • Martin Shkreli – Lied to investors about hedge fund assets and was convicted of securities fraud.
  • Elizabeth Holmes – Founder of Theranos convicted of defrauding investors and patients about blood testing technology.
  • Paul Manafort – Trump advisor convicted of bank fraud and hiding foreign lobbying proceeds.

These cases show federal prosecutors pursue complex white collar crimes involving millions in losses. Defendants often receive lengthy prison terms and massive restitution orders.

Defenses to Federal Fraud Charges

Fighting federal fraud charges starts with understanding possible defenses. Common defenses include:

  • Lack of intent – Prosecutors must show you knowingly participated in deception. Mistakes or accidents are not criminal.
  • No actual loss – If alleged victims suffered no real financial loss, there may have been no fraud.
  • Statute of limitations – Charges must be brought within 5 years for most federal frauds.
  • Entrapment – When government agents improperly induced you to commit fraud.
  • Duress – You were forced to act illegally under threat of harm.

Skilled federal defense attorneys can analyze the strength of these and other defenses. They may be able to get charges dismissed or negotiate a favorable plea deal. An experienced lawyer can make all the difference.

Avoiding Federal Fraud Charges

The best protection against federal fraud charges is avoiding fraudulent conduct in the first place. Steps individuals and businesses can take include:

  • Carefully vetting employees and business partners
  • Implementing strong internal controls and audits
  • Properly training staff on compliance and ethics
  • Seeking legal counsel when activities could be unlawful
  • Maintaining accurate financial statements and taxes
  • Avoiding misrepresentations in marketing or transactions

While mistakes can happen, engaging in willful ignorance or burying your head in the sand won’t hold up as a defense. Promoting a culture of honesty and accountability offers the best fraud prevention.

Get Help Fighting Federal Fraud Charges

Facing federal fraud accusations is daunting, but skilled defense counsel can protect your rights. An experienced attorney will thoroughly examine the prosecution’s evidence, identify weaknesses, and formulate a defense strategy. They can also negotiate with prosecutors for reduced charges or sentences. Don’t wait to get experienced legal help on your side.

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