Economic crimes encompass a wide range of conduct and are a primary focus of Federal Investigations. Sizable amounts of Federal resources are directed at investigating and prosecuting economic crimes. Federal Economic Crimes can take many forms. No matter which crime you are being investigated for or charged with, the consequences can be serious. Federal Economic charges can impact your career, prevent you from being considered for employment, affect your ability to obtain credit, or preclude you from obtaining Federal Benefits. If you have been contacting by Federal Investigators or think you may be under investigation for a Federal Crime, contact Michele. Michele has experience representing individuals charged with all manner of economic crimes and is prepared to advise you of your options and the best course of action to protect you.
Federal Benefit Fraud
Enormous media attention is being directed at the cost of welfare and other benefit programs and fraud. Federal Investigations of benefit fraud is increasing. The rules to receive benefits are very strict and even a minor mistake can cause you to lose your benefits or be charged with a serious crime. Federal benefits include benefits that you receive through the State because the benefit money comes from the Federal Government. You may be committing benefit fraud if you have intentionally misstated information, not revealed information that affects your eligibility, failed to provide information about your family, or failed to report changes to your circumstances. If you are charged with Federal Benefit Fraud you may face prison time, loss of your benefits, and large civil fines.
SNAP Fraud occurs when someone uses their Electronic Benefit Transfer Card (EBT) provided through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for a purpose other than what is designated by the Federal Government. Recipients of Federal Benefits and those who accept Federal benefits as payments must follow strict procedures. Any variation from these procedures can result in a Federal charge. For instance, holders of EBT cards are only permitted to use those cards for purchases of food products. Any attempt to exchange the cards for currency is a violation of the program and a criminal offense. Likewise, store owners who process EBT cards and provide cash to recipients can be charged with a criminal offense. These cases can result in huge restitution payments and exclusion from benefit program in the future.
Wire Fraud is a Federal crime that occurs when a person has obtained money from illegal means and transmits that money electronically through interstate or foreign commerce. This can occur in the context of Drug Conspiracy where profits are wired to another state or country, Benefit Fraud where an individual obtains funds illegally through an electronic benefits cards, or in any other circumstances where money is transmitted between states or countries.
Theft of Government Funds
Theft of Government Funds can encompass any conduct where an individual or business converts money intended for another person or purpose for their own use. A common example of this offense is where an individual obtains benefits, such as Social Security benefits, that were intended for another person. In this case, if the individual retains the funds unlawfully, they can be charged with a criminal offense, fined, and required to reimburse the Government for the amount of funds received and retained. Theft of Government Funds may also occur in the context of businesses who unlawfully receive aid from Federal programs such as those aimed at assisting small business. It may also be investigated where contractor receives payments through Federal building programs and are suspected of overbilling those programs.
Bank Fraud occurs whenever someone knowingly attempts or engages in a scheme to defraud a financial institution or to obtain money, credit, asset, securities, or other property under the custody or control of a financial institution by false and fraudulent pretenses. The Government may seek an Indictment where an individual, such as an employee, simply steals or embezzles money from a bank, or where a more complex scheme exists that is based upon false statements or overvaluation of property or securities.
Identity Theft and Identity Fraud are used to describe conduct where someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal data, typically for economic gain. Federal Identity Theft charges carry stiff penalties that in many cases are mandatory. For example, charges involving fraudulent use of another’s identity may be brought as Aggravated Identity Theft. This charge has a mandatory twenty-four month term of imprisonment which runs consecutive to any time imposed on other offenses. These cases will also require the defendant to reimburse the victims for the theft and can result in huge sums being owed. Victims may include individuals who have lost money from bank accounts, incurred fraudulent credit card charges, or banks who must reimburse customers for lost funds.
Money laundering is the process by which individuals conceal or disguise the proceeds of their crimes or convert those proceeds into goods and services. Money laundering can allow people to move their money into the general stream of commerce for the purpose of severing a trail connected to the originating illegal activity.