The goal of a legitimate business is to make as much money as possible by selling goods or services that people want. However, it can be tempting to market a good or service as worthwhile or necessary even if it may provide no value or may even hurt someone. Let’s take a look at some common tactics that may be considered fraudulent and how an attorney may be helpful.
Companies May Attempt to Act as a Pyramid Scheme
If a company operates by selling goods to consumers, it is considered a legitimate business. While there is no guarantee of success by those who choose to be part of the company, there is nothing inherently wrong about it either. However, if a company makes most of its money selling products to distributors who then cannot sell that product to an outside customer, that may be considered fraud.
Contractors May Do Shoddy Work
A contractor who is hired to repair a home or remodel a commercial space may be charged with business fraud if he or she doesn’t do the job in accordance with the law and other standards. For instance, if a contractor chooses to use substandard materials or doesn’t complete the job at all, that would be fraudulent. If a subcontractor is hired to do a job, and that subcontractor does the job poorly, the general contractor could also be held liable for fraud or be charged with other crimes.
Stores Sell Expired or Otherwise Dangerous Goods
If a store sold food that was expired or otherwise contaminated, it could result in health or other issues for customers. In the event that the goods were sold intentionally, that could be considered fraud. Knowingly selling a defective product like a car that doesn’t run properly would also be fraud in most circumstances.
What Are the Penalties for Business Fraud?
The type of penalties that an individual may face for business fraud depends partially on the type of fraud committed. For instance, if money was stolen from customers or from investors, the business owner or others who engaged in fraud will likely face financial penalties such as a fine or restitution. In some cases, both a fine and restitution will be part of a sentence.
In addition to financial penalties, it is possible that an individual who commits business fraud will be sent to jail or prison. Prison terms could last for several years, decades or even for the rest of that person’s life. However, it is also possible that an individual is sentenced to a combination of jail time, probation and community service.
A business owner who commits fraud may lose his or her professional license either permanently or temporarily. This will depend largely on the seriousness of the fraud as well as the intent of the person who committed it. For instance, if an insurance salesperson sells a fake policy, he or she may no longer be allowed to sell insurance or may be banned from doing so on his or her own for a period of time.
How an Attorney May Help
If you are charged with business fraud, your attorney may help negotiate the terms of your surrender to authorities. He or she may also negotiate the terms of any plea deal that may require you to cooperate with an investigation. For the most part, legal counsel makes sure that you aren’t treated unfairly or improperly by the government. This may include helping to get evidence suppressed or otherwise taking actions to ensure a fair trial and a fair resolution of the case even if you are found guilty.
Business fraud is a serious crime that could result in serious penalties if convicted. Therefore, you will want to do everything in your power to learn more about what a prosecutor must do to prove that you committed this crime. It is also in your best interest to hire an attorney and take other steps to understand, assert and protect your rights throughout the legal process.