Orange County Federal Fraud Crimes Attorney
Fraud offenses are among the most common crimes charged by federal prosecutors nationwide. Investigations for fraud offenses can take years before it leads to charging someone because of the inherent level of sophistication. In fact, the statute of limitations for most federal crimes is five years. This allows more than enough time for the government to review voluminous financial statements and conduct meticulous accounting of your finances.
Fraud offenses contain the element of deceit on part of the defendant. In other words, a defendant must have intended to defraud someone or an institution as part of their crime. Federal prosecutors may seek an indictment because you were directly involved in a fraudulent scheme or based on your involvement in a criminal conspiracy.
A target in a fraud investigation made be alerted of its existence by:
- Service of a grand jury subpoena
- Federal agents contact you in person
- Sudden closure of your bank accounts, credit cards, and stock account
- Notice from social media platforms of it being served with a subpoena
- Letter from your bank about suspicious money laundering activity
- A search warrant was served on your home or workplace
Typical federal agencies aimed at investigating fraud offenses include:
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
- Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)
- Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
- Financial Crimes Network (FinCEN)
Experienced Orange County Federal Fraud Defense Attorney
The U.S. Attorney's Office has enormous investigative power with unlimited resources to ensure the individual under investigation later stands convicted. Consequently, you must protect yourself with an experienced federal criminal defense attorney. Any time you are facing fraud charges in federal court, it is paramount that you enlist the help of a lawyer who is knowledgeable in federal criminal law, federal procedure, and federal sentencing guidelines to ensure you are made aware of all your options. Retaining an inexperienced lawyer can cause irreparable harm to your case and future.
John D. Rogers is a board-certified criminal law specialist who handles both state and federal crimes. His experience has been verified by the state bar licensing authority. He is an experienced and respected trial attorney in the criminal defense field. Our primary concern is to protect our client's freedom and avoid devastating consequences. Our office stands prepared to intervene at all stages of the criminal process in Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside, San Diego, and the rest of California.
Common Types of Fraud Offenses
All fraud crimes carry a specific intent to defraud another person or institution. For instance, common types of fraud conduct involve investment schemes, pyramid schemes, or submitting false information to obtain a bank loan. Each fraud crime is unique requiring its own set of elements the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
Bank fraud is committed when a defendant uses deception to obtain money or property from a lending institution. It is written into statute under 18 U.S.C. § 1344. A conviction is punishable with a sentence of up to 30 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $1,000,000, and full repayment of any lost money.
Charged under 18 U.S.C. § 1341, mail fraud occurs when a defendant uses the U.S. Postal Service or other interstate courier service as a means to facilitate a scheme. The crime is punishable by the act itself regardless of obtaining money or property. Mail fraud carries a federal prison sentence of up to 20 years and a fine of up to $100,000.
Wire fraud is charged under 18 U.S.C. § 1343 and it occurs when a defendant electronically transmits something to facilitate a fraudulent scheme. It has a maximum punishment of 20 to 30 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000. If the fraud was against a financial institution, the fine amount may be up to $1,000,000 for each offense.
Mortgage fraud, also known as real estate fraud, can be accomplished by submitting falsified records to a financial institution or giving false information on a mortgage loan application. Mortgage fraud carries up to 30 years in federal prison and a $1,000,000 fine. The court will order repayment of restitution for any loss the financial institution suffered.
Codified under 18 U.S.C. § 157, bankruptcy fraud involves misrepresenting, concealing, or inaccurate reporting of property. It is not uncommon to be charged with tax fraud, perjury, wire fraud, identity theft, and conspiracy as well. It is penalized in federal prison for up to 20 years with a maximum fine of $250,000 for each count.
Healthcare fraud is charged under 18 U.S.C. § 1347. It can occur by several means. Generally, it involves submitting false information to defraud a healthcare program or receiving or soliciting kickbacks for referrals. The charge covers both private insurance carriers and government-sponsored programs. The criminal penalties include a fine of up to $250,000 per offense, and a maximum prison sentence of 5, 10, or 20 years.
Securities fraud is charged under 18 U.S.C. § 1348 making it a crime to defraud a person or fraudulently obtain money or property in connection with the purchase or sale of any commodity. It is punishable in federal prison for up to 25 years, followed by a period of supervised release of 3 years, and fines up to $5,000,000. All profits derived from the scheme may be seized by the government and you may be ordered to pay full restitution for any loss.
Immigration fraud is a federal offense charged under 18 U.S.C. § 1546. The code makes several forms of conduct unlawful that namely including falsely submitting or misrepresenting information to remain or gain entry into the United States. Depending on the circumstances, it carries a maximum prison sentence of 5 to 15 years.
Credit Card Fraud
Federal credit card fraud is charged under 15 U.S.C. § 1644 making it a crime to fraudulently use the credit card information of another in a transaction affecting interstate or foreign commerce. It is punishable in federal prison for up to 10 years and a maximum fine amount of $10,000.
PPP Loan Fraud
The Payroll Protection Program (“PPP Loan”) was created by the CARES Act in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Billions of federal dollars were dispersed by lending institutions in an effort to save small businesses impacted by the pandemic. The crime entails a defendant submitting false information to a financial lender in order to obtain a PPP loan. The FBI is currently inundated with an overwhelming amount of PPP Loan fraud investigations.
Aggravated Identity Theft
Aggravated identity theft is codified under 18 U.S.C. § 1028A making it a crime to use the personal identifying information of another without their consent. It carries a 2-year federal prison sentence that must run consecutively with any other charge(s).
False Statement in a Passport Application
Making a misrepresentation or false statement in a passport application is a federal felony charged under 18 U.S.C. § 1542. It is punishable by up to 10 years in federal prison and fines up to $250,000.
Punishment for Federal Fraud Charges
Most fraud crimes are straight federal felonies that cannot be reduced to misdemeanors. The statutory maximum can range from 5 to 30 years, plus fines ranging between $10,000 to $1,000,000 for each offense.
All fraud crimes are characterized as crimes involving moral turpitude because they contain an element to defraud another. The following are some of the collateral consequences that can result from a federal felony conviction:
- Prohibition from owning or possessing a firearm for life
- Suspension or revocation of a professional license
- Adverse immigration consequences for Non-U.S. citizens
Significant Collateral Financial Consequences
Prior to issuing formal charges, the government will conduct a financial background investigation on the accused. This entails locating all assets held by the defendant worldwide – e.g., stock accounts, properties, safe deposit boxes, and cash. The government will also trace illegitimate proceeds derived from the fraud to all of the defendant's assets.
If someone is ultimately convicted, the government will file for asset forfeiture. This means the government will seize all of the defendant's assets that can be traced to illegitimate proceeds gained from the fraud. Whatever is remaining can be seized to cover the restitution judgment the court may impose for the victim's loss. Accordingly, a conviction can place yourself, and even your children, in financial ruin.
Federal Sentencing Guidelines for Fraud Crimes
The federal sentencing guidelines were written by the United States Sentencing Commission. The guidelines are a set of predetermined advisory sentences and rules that judges follow. Moreover, a specific offense will have an advisory guideline sentence. Additionally, the judge will also consider the following mitigating and aggravating circumstances at a sentencing hearing:
- Loss Amount
- Leadership Role
- Level of Sophistication
- Use of Fraudulent Access Devices
- Defendant's lavish lifestyle with the use of illegitimate money
- Prior Criminal History
- Early payment of restitution prior to the sentencing hearing
- A defendant's cooperation with the government
- Defendant's level of remorse for his or her conduct
- Acceptance of responsibility for the offense(s)
- Defendant's personal qualities and volunteer work
Defending Against All Federal Fraud Allegations
Our office is committed to conducting a thorough investigation by exploring all possible avenues to get your case dismissed, charges reduced, or obtain an acquittal at trial. We may employ accountants to conduct private defense investigations or to piece together complex financial transactions. We will carefully look to see if any one of the following defenses is applicable to your case:
- Insufficient evidence
- Witness credibility
- Mistaken identity
- Lack of intent to defraud
- You were the victim of entrapment
If the government committed any unlawful intrusion into your home, office, or electronic devices, then we will move to suppress all evidence garnered by the government.
Contact an Orange County Federal Criminal Defense Attorney Today
When you're facing serious federal fraud allegations, then you must act quickly. Building a defense can begin with an early proactive investigation. Call us today to speak with an experienced Los Angeles federal criminal defense attorney. Contact us today to schedule your risk-free consultation. We will mount your defense and help navigate you through an unfamiliar system.