Fraud is a term that is used to describe deception perpetrated in order to achieve some kind of goal or benefit. Fraud can be either civil, criminal, or both, with civil fraud being punishable by the assignment of monetary damages to compensate victims for their losses, and criminal fraud being punishable by jail time as well as by fines. For a fraud to be a criminal offense, it needs to have been in violation of either a federal or state law, or both.
There are a number of common types of fraud that are frequently prosecuted. These include:
- Mail Fraud
Mail fraud describes any action meant to defraud somebody that makes use of the United States Postal Service or any other interstate mail carrier. This would include any action in which somebody tries to cheat a victim out of money that involves sending a letter through the mail, whether the action is successful or not. The recipient of a letter with this intent can immediately report the perpetrator to the appropriate authorities. Mail fraud is a federal crime.
- Wire Fraud
Wire fraud is similar to mail fraud, but rather than using the mail to perpetrate the deception, it involves the use of communication devices such as a telephone, a computer with Internet access, or any other electronic communication device. Wire fraud is also a federal crime.
Counterfeiting can refer to criminally duplicating currency, documents such as passports, birth certificates, drivers’ licenses or deeds, or even goods such as clothing or accessories and representing them as being brand name products. Counterfeiting of money is a federal crime, while other types of counterfeiting can be either a federal crime, a state crime, or both.
- Check Fraud
There are a number of different types of check fraud, including writing a check against somebody else’s account and signing their name, providing a check as payment with the knowledge that it is counterfeit, providing a check as payment with the knowledge that it will not be honored, or any other action using a check that is designed to result in the perpetrator getting something without paying for it. In many cases, check fraud also qualifies as theft. It can be both a state crime and a federal crime.
- Credit Card Fraud
When a credit card is stolen, forged or in any way used to pay for something without the permission of the card owner, it is credit card fraud. It is both a federal crime and a state crime.
When a person is charged with having committed criminal fraud, they face the possibility of a number of different penalties, including jail time, probation, fines and compensation to victims.
If you are under investigation for fraud or have been charged with having committed a criminal fraud, it is essential that you are represented by a qualified, experienced criminal defense attorney. The lawyers of the Philadelphia law firm Bochetto & Lentz have the knowledge and skill needed to provide you with the most effective defense.
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