Is Fraud a Federal Crime?
In the broadest sense, fraud refers to intentionally deceiving another person in order to benefit yourself or someone else. Fraud becomes a federal crime when the actions take place across state lines or violate federal legal codes. The penalties associated with federal convictions are often more severe than those for state charges, but it’s important to recognize that every fraud charge, state or federal, is a serious charge that requires the professional legal guidance of an experienced Minnesota criminal defense lawyer to help ensure that your rights and your future are protected.
Any scheme to defraud another that uses the U.S. mail or wire communications, such as the internet or phones, is deemed mail fraud (or wire fraud). The implications for this category of fraud depend upon the nature of the crime, as individuals who engage in mail fraud often do so as part of a larger criminal offense.
The federal government regulates the securities and commodities markets; as such, there is a vast array of activities that can be classified as securities fraud, including:
● Ponzi or pyramid schemes
● Embezzlement by brokers
● Investment schemes
● Fraud related to foreign currencies
● Brokers who deceive investors or clients with information that is false or otherwise misrepresentative
● Insider trading (when someone uses information about stocks or other securities as a result of obtaining information that isn’t available to the public at large).
Securities fraud is a serious crime that often leads to jail time.
Tax evasion, also known as tax fraud, occurs when a taxpayer takes steps to avoid paying taxes that they owe to the federal government. Examples of tax fraud include:
● Underestimating one’s income
● Underreporting one’s income
● Overestimating business expenses
● Itemizing false business expenses
● Failing to file a tax return
Tax fraud is one of the most common forms of federal fraud.
Medicare and Medicaid Fraud
Millions of people in the United States are insured by Medicare and Medicaid, both of which are at least partially funded by the federal government. These agencies often contend with fraudulent claims that target them specifically. Often, this fraud takes the form of a healthcare provider or facility that attempts to collect reimbursements from Medicare or Medicaid that are, in fact, illegitimate. Medicare and Medicaid fraud includes overbilling or reporting on the performance of procedures that aren’t necessary, among others.
Federal Charges and Attendant Penalties
If you’re facing federal fraud charges, you have most likely been charged with a felony – though misdemeanor charges aren’t out of the question in some circumstances. The difference between a federal charge of misdemeanor and a federal charge of a felony are the potential penalties. An individual convicted of a felony charge can be sentenced to at least 1 year in prison, while misdemeanor conviction carries a penalty of up to 1 year in prison.
Specific penalties associated with a federal fraud charge depend greatly upon the circumstances involved in a specific crime, but they generally include prison time, significant fines, and/or probation.
Consider the following:
● Prison Time – The amount of time someone convicted of a federal fraud charge will spend in prison can range from several months all the way up to 20 years or more per violation. The exact amount of time spent behind bars depends upon the specific law violated, along with the details of the crime and the offender’s past criminal history (if any). Alternative punishments, such as home confinement, are sometimes deemed appropriate.
● Fines – The fines associated with a federal fraud conviction are often very high, especially when the crime involves a wide-ranging impact and high dollar amount. Further, a conviction for mail or wire fraud can result in fines as high as $250,000 per violation.
● Restitution – When someone is convicted of federal fraud, they will often be ordered to provide restitution to those harmed by the fraud scheme, in order to compensate the victims for the losses they suffered. Restitution is paid on top of any fines levied by the court against the perpetrator.
Speak with an Experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
If you’re facing a federal fraud charge, you need the dedicated criminal defense attorneys at Gerald Miller in Minneapolis on your side. Federal charges are more serious than state charges, and building your most robust defense from the outset is essential. Our formidable legal team has the experience, skill, and resources to help you, so please don’t hesitate to contact or call us at 612.440.3212 today.