Fraud is not only illegal but is also a very complicated area of the law, and if you are facing fraud charges, you are in a very challenging position.
Because protecting your legal rights is critical, it’s in your best interest to work closely with an experienced Killeen criminal defense attorney with a wealth of experience guiding complex fraud cases like yours toward advantageous outcomes.
The United States Supreme Court defines fraud as “the deprivation of something of value by trick, deceit, chicane, or overreaching,” which amounts to wronging someone out of their property rights via “dishonest methods or schemes.”
Fraud charges are a uniquely complicated aspect of the law that you should not attempt to tackle on your own. Contact a criminal defense lawyer right away if you are facing charges of fraud.
No Overarching Fraud Law
There is no overarching federal fraud law, and the same is true for the State of Texas. If federal or state authorities deem the act in question to fall within a specific statute or legal precedent, an arrest can be made. It should also be noted that the authorities are often more than happy to overreach in this legal arena.
The government – whether federal or state – takes the view that fraud charges can be brought within a range of legal choices in terms of the specific charge that is levied.
This means that, in order to bring your strongest defense, you and your dedicated criminal defense attorney will need to carefully assess each element that makes up the specific charge levied against you on a point-by-point basis.
Common Fraud Charges
Fraud charges come in many different varieties, but some of the most common at the federal level include the following crimes:
Government program fraud and bribery
False statements or false claims as fraud against the government
Some of the most common forms of fraud dealt with in the State of Texas include:
The fraudulent use or possession of credit or debit card information
The fraudulent transfer of a motor vehicle
False statements to obtain property or credit in the provision of certain services
The execution of a document by deception
The Basic Elements of Fraud in Texas
In order for the charge of fraud to stick in the State of Texas, all the following basic elements must be present:
The person or entity charged made a representation or claim to the person or entity who was defrauded.
The claim was both material (meaning significant) and false.
The person or entity that made the claim either did so recklessly and without knowledge of truth or knew it was false to begin with.
The person or entity who made the claim did so with the intention of moving the other party to act on it.
The person or entity who was defrauded acted on the claim and suffered loss as a result.
Proving Fraud: The Key Element
In order for fraud to occur, there must be a manipulative plan at play that involves trickery or deceit of some kind, which is a defining distinction between fraud and theft. When a thief steals something, they take it outright. However, a person who commits fraud takes something that does not belong to them from someone else via fraudulent means.
Specific Fraud Charges in Texas
There is a wide range of fraud charges, but there are several charges that are most common. If you are facing any of the charges listed below, contact a skilled criminal defense attorney.
Bank fraud charges are common, and they break down further into several subcategories.
Embezzlement involves theft for personal gain that is committed through fraudulence. This crime typically involves an employee who has access to the accounts of the financial institution that employs them.
Abstraction is similar to embezzlement in that it refers to an employee who – for their own gain – fraudulently withdraws funds from their employer without the financial institution’s consent.
Willful Misapplication of Funds
The willful misapplication of funds refers to the purposeful abuse of a financial institution’s funds or credit with the sole intent of deceit through distribution to a false record.
Check kiting occurs when an employee of a financial institution approves payment for a check or another form of withdrawal when the account lacks the funds to do so. Check kiting involves depositing the funds into another financial institution where they become available to the check holder before the original financial institution realizes the lack of funds for the kited check.
Another form of bank fraud is when an employee of a financial institution approves a loan for someone who does not qualify to obtain the loan for one of the following reasons:
The applicant lacks a satisfactory credit score.
The applicant has collateral that is known to be valueless.
The applicant has collateral of too little value.
The employee in these schemes generally has a financial or personal incentive for engaging in this form of fraud.
Credit Card Fraud
Credit card fraud relates to using – in one way or another – someone else’s credit or debit card without permission to do so. This can mean stealing the card itself and using it for purchases or stealing the information that backs the card up and using that information to use the account for personal gain.
Credit card fraud can happen on a small-scale basis – when one person heists another person’s card or information – but it can also take the form of major data breaches.
Credit card fraud can also be the result of scamming people into believing they are handing over the information necessary to breach their financial accounts to a legitimate financial institution, which is often called phishing.
Some of the most common credit card fraud charges involve these criminal actions:
Opening accounts with stolen credit or debit card information
Using stolen credit card information to make purchases
Using someone else’s credit card – whether lost or stolen
Making purchases with a counterfeit credit card
Making purchases with a credit card known to lack the necessary funds, to be expired, or to have been revoked
Using, manufacturing, or transferring counterfeit access devices, such as card skimmers that are designed to capture the credit card information of others
Healthcare fraud can be perpetrated on individual patients by healthcare providers, but it can also take the form of fraudulent billing to a source of government insurance coverage, such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare, which is a much more serious form of fraud.
Some of the most common healthcare fraud charges in the State of Texas include the following crimes:
Engaging in false or otherwise fraudulent billing
Impersonating a healthcare professional
Using someone else’s insurance coverage
Engaging in fraudulent healthcare marketing
Insurance fraud can reach outside the forms of fraud explored under healthcare fraud to include insurance claims that are inaccurate, inflated, or outright false to begin with. Examples include representing one of the following kinds of fraudulent loss:
Loss that is made up, such as damage from a hurricane that, while plausible, did not happen
Loss that is exaggerated, such as inflating the losses experienced in a car accident
If you are facing insurance fraud charges, contact a criminal defense lawyer right away.
While mortgage fraud is sometimes classified as bank fraud, it has taken on a life of its own in the last 20 or so years. With the rapid growth of the home loan industry, the specific charge of mortgage fraud has garnered considerable attention.
The FBI defines mortgage fraud as a crime “characterized by some type of material misstatement, misrepresentation, or omission in relation to a mortgage loan, which is then relied upon by a lender.” Ultimately, if the party seeking a mortgage engages in a lie to influence the financial institution’s decision, it is mortgage fraud.
Mortgage fraud, however, can also come in the form of loan officers – and beyond – going for huge profits with little concern regarding the borrowers’ financial ability to handle the loans in question, which was the impetus behind the housing market collapse. As such, any of the following parties can face mortgage fraud charges:
Those in foreclosure rescue operations
Cyberattacks involve targeting a computer system and include activities like creating and spreading harmful computer viruses, denying computer systems the services they require, sabotaging computer systems, and vandalizing computer systems.
Cybertheft involves accessing someone else’s computer system – often by hacking in – in order to steal information or data. Related charges can include all the following crimes:
Theft of intellectual property
Cybersecurity incidents relate to the creation or use of tools, such as spyware or adware, to breach someone else’s computer system. These incidents can also include engaging in activities such as the following:
Theft of another entity’s information to breach their computer system also suffices.
It is important to note that cybercrimes also address the storage, transmission, or dissemination of illegal data, such as pornographic images of children.
Identity theft is a form of fraud that is becoming increasingly prevalent in the State of Texas and across the nation. It involves someone else using one’s personal information for fraudulent purposes that afford the accused with personal gain. Identity theft in Texas comes in two basic categories.
Fraudulent Use or Possession of Identifying Information
The fraudulent use or possession of identifying information refers to using, having, or transferring someone else’s identifying information without their consent. The kinds of information that qualify include these and others:
Date of birth
Social security card or social security number
Driver’s license or driver’s license number
Bank account information
The more personal information is obtained, the more damage the identity theft can cause.
Unauthorized Transfer or Acquisition of Financial Information
Recording someone else’s financial information by memorizing it, videotaping or photographing it, jotting it down, or otherwise capturing it without their permission can lead to a charge of identity theft. The information involved can include all the following types of identification:
The person’s credit or debit card number or bank account number
The person’s account routing number
The expiry date of the person’s credit or debit card
The figures printed above the magnetic strip on the back of the person’s credit or debit card
How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
If you have been charged with fraud of any kind, proceeding with caution is paramount, which makes consulting with a trusted criminal defense attorney early in the process the best course of action.
Your focused criminal defense attorney will engage in all the following actions to help ensure that you bring your strongest defense in pursuit of your case’s most advantageous outcome:
Gathering and skillfully compiling all the evidence in your case, including any exculpatory evidence (meaning evidence that tends to favor your position) that the prosecution may have
Communicating with the prosecution to ensure the ins and outs of your case are well understood
Negotiating with the prosecution – as appropriate – for a lesser charge or sentence
Being well prepared to take your case to court and skillfully advocate for a beneficial resolution
Reach Out to an Experienced Killeen Criminal Defense Attorney Today
Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, recognizes the serious nature of the fraud charge you face and is well positioned to zealously defend your legal rights throughout the legal process. Mr. Pritchard has an imposing track record of achieving favorable case results, and he is on your side and here to help.To learn more, please do not wait to contact us online or call us at (254) 781-4222 today.