Fraud is one of the most nebulous and least commonly understood crimes that an individual can be charged with. Unlike most crimes, fraud doesn’t have a single section of the U.S legal code, but an entire chapter.
Chapter 47 of the U.S. code of laws is titled “Fraud and False Statements.” In this chapter are 40 separate sections devoted to various types of fraudulent action. This is because fraud is a very broad charge. Fraud is defined as the intent to swindle or deceive an individual, group, or entity for personal or financial gain.
Some of the most common forms of fraud are listed below:
- Identity theft – The deceptive act of pretending to be someone else
- Insurance fraud – The deceptive act of faking or exaggerating injuries to gain larger payouts
- Mail fraud – The act of using the mail in a fraudulent scheme
- Credit/debit card fraud – The fraudulent use of a credit or debit card without authorization
- Securities fraud – The act of operating a business to defraud investors such as a ponzi scheme, embezzlement, or pyramid scheme
- Telemarketing fraud – The deceptive act of retrieving sensitive information over the phone through misleading or false statements
- Wire fraud – The act of using a telephone in a fraudulent enterprise
- Bankruptcy fraud – The act of willfully or neglectfully leaving property and equity out of proceedings
- Tax evasion – The act of failing to disclose taxable income, falsely exaggerating deduction amounts, or taking any action which would result in paying fewer taxes than are owed.
The penalties for fraud are as wide-ranging as the crime itself. Some minor counts may result in fines or short-term imprisonment. One unusual facet of fraud charges is that they also include restitution.
Restitution is the legal punishment by which the accused is forced to repay the damages caused to their victims directly. Due to the intimately personal nature of fraud charges, restitution can be a legitimate punishment if the defendant is found guilty.
Fraud charges can be extremely complex. If you have been accused of committing fraud in any form, it is advisable that you consult with an attorney immediately to review potential actions or resolution options.