In the state of California, fraud crimes can mean receiving unfair or undeserved benefits that could potentially cause another individual harm or loss in some form. This is like profiting off the pain and loss of others through illegal means. Obviously, fraud can be committed for financial benefit; however, fraud can also be committed to evade criminal culpability. In California, common types of fraud crimes include insurance fraud, real estate and mortgage fraud, financial fraud, forgery, and identity theft, and more. These are often called “white collar” crimes. Each type of fraud offense relates to specific circumstances and details of every case, and each offense comes with its own set of possible punishments.
At Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer, we are prepared to help anyone with any type of fraud offense. Our team of lawyers are highly experienced and knowledgeable so as to best assist you in any type of situation. Fraud is a serious type of offense in California and can lead to serious punishment. If you or someone you know has been charged with some type of fraud offense, quickly contact us so that we can review and discuss your case. With Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer, you can be assured that you are in the hands of skilled and professional lawyers.
Types of Fraud Crimes
It is important to know that there are many different types of fraud offenses in the state of California. Each form and type of fraud comes with specific criteria and a set of possible penalties so as to reflect the crime. Below is a list of common types of fraud offenses in the state of California.
Insurance fraud, as its name suggests, involves insurance and received benefits. Even though there are different types of insurance, insurance fraud usually involves wrongfully receiving payments and/or benefits from an insurance organization. Common types of insurance fraud include automobile insurance fraud, health care insurance fraud, unemployment insurance fraud, welfare fraud, and workers’ compensation fraud.
Automobile Insurance Fraud
Under Penal Code Sections 548 – 551, committing auto insurance fraud includes: damaging, hiding, and/or abandoning your vehicle on purpose in order to receive insurance payments; submitting a fraudulent auto insurance claim for a loss; presenting two or more claims for the same loss; purposely causing an accident or loss with the intent to collect payment; and presenting a statement that contains false or misleading information.
Most of the offenses associated with auto insurance fraud are felonies in the state of California. However, there are a couple that are considered to be wobbler offenses. This means that they can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the severity of the crime and the defendant’s past criminal history.
As a felony, the possible penalties include up to 5 years in state prison and/or a fine of $50,000 or twice the amount of fraud if larger in value. As a misdemeanor, the possible penalties include up to one (1) year in jail and/or a fine of $1,000.
Health Care Insurance Fraud
Health care insurance fraud is often called medical insurance billing fraud since most of the fraudulent activity occurs with the benefit and payment aspects of the process. Under Penal Code Section 550(a), examples of fraudulent activity include billing for medical services that never occurred; billing for more expensive services despite never receiving them; and, billing for a single service two or more times. This can also apply to government programs, such as Medi-Cal.
A medical insurance fraud offense may be charged as a misdemeanor if the value of the fraudulent claim is less than $950. As such, the penalties include up to six (6) months in jail and/or a fine of $1,000.
If the value of the fraudulent claim exceeds $950, then this offense is considered to be a wobbler offense. This means is may be charged either as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances. A felony would include penalties such as two (2), three (3), or five (5) years in jail and/or a fine of $50,000 or double the fraud amount if larger.
Unemployment Insurance Fraud
Under the Unemployment Insurance Code 2101 and Penal Code Section 550, it is illegal to commit unemployment insurance fraud. This offense arises when someone takes advantage of insurance benefits related to unemployment. Common examples include working while receiving unemployment benefits, collecting other types of compensation without reporting it, using false information to receive benefits, cashing in someone else’s unemployment benefits without proper authorization, and giving a false reason for why you are not working.
Under Unemployment Insurance Code 2101, unemployment insurance fraud is a wobbler offense and may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony in California. If charged as a misdemeanor, the defendant possibly faces up to one (1) year in jail and/or a fine of $20,000. If charged as a felony, the defendant possibly faces up to sixteen (16) months in state prison and/or a fine of $20,000.
Under Penal Code Section 550, this offense is a misdemeanor if the value of fraud amounts to less than $950. As such, the defendant possibly faces up to six (6) months in jail and/or a fine of $1,000. If more than $950, it is a wobbler offense. A misdemeanor would lead to up to one (1) year in jail and/or a fine of $10,000. If charged as a felony, the defendant possibly faces two (2), three (3), or five (5) years in jail and/or a $50,000 fine or double the amount of fraud if greater.
Under California’s Welfare and Institutions Code Section 10980, it is unlawful to receive welfare benefits that you are not entitled to receive. This can mean that you have been receiving benefits though you may not actually be entitled to receive them. Also, an employee may be charged if he or she collects or unlawfully distributes benefits. A fraud offense may also be applied to more standard fraud practices such as giving false information.
The penalties for welfare fraud vary drastically depending the circumstances of the case and on what part of the process the defendant committed the fraudulent activity.
Workers’ Compensation Fraud
Workers’ compensation is meant to help workers by helping with medical care, disability, and other benefits related to injury and/or death. Under California’s Insurance Code Section 1871.4, it is a crime to make false statements in order to receive workers’ compensation, help another employee to falsely receive workers’ compensation, or to knowingly make false claims so as to discourage the receipt of benefits. Both employers and employees can be charged with fraud depending on the situation.
Under the Insurance code, the fraud offense can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If a misdemeanor, the defendant possibly faces probation, up to one (1) year in jail, and/or a fine of $150,000 or double the amount of fraud if larger. If a felony, the defendant possibly faces probation, two (2), three (3), or five (5) years in jail, and/or a fine of $150,000 or double the amount of fraud if larger.
Under Penal Code Section 549, it is a crime for employers to knowingly accept and/or refer business to a specific entity that seeks to commit fraud.
Under Penal Code Section 550, it is a crime to make false claims in order to receive benefits, to charge for unused services, and/or make multiple claims for a single service. If charged as a misdemeanor, the defendant possibly faces probation, up to one (1) year in jail and/or a fine of $10,000. If charged as a felony, the defendant possibly faces probation, between two (2) and five (5) years in jail, and/or a fine of $50,000 or double the amount of fraud if larger.
Real Estate and Mortgage Fraud
Under California Civil Codes Sections 2945 and 2945.4, it is illegal for a foreclosure expert to collect and/or charge before correctly performing the service he or she agreed to undertake for the homeowner; charge excessive fees; take interest in a property; take money from a third party without notifying the homeowner; take a ‘power of attorney’ from the homeowner; or, knowingly make the homeowner sign an illegal contract. A common example would be a consultant who promises to prevent a foreclosure and takes a payment before actually getting the job done.
If charged as a felony, the defendant possibly faces sixteen (16) months, two (2), or three (3) years in jail and/or a $10,000 fine. If charged as a misdemeanor, the defendant possibly faces up to one (1) year in jail and/or a $10,000 fine.
Under Penal Code Section 115, it is a crime to knowingly file a false or forged document, especially a real estate deed or a trust deed. This can mean unlawfully transferring ownership of a home to another individual without consent.
This is a felony crime and could potentially lead to: sixteen (16) months, two (2), or three (3) years in jail and/or a fine of $10,000.
Predatory lending schemes are often committed by banks or other types of lending institutions. This could mean that the lender set up a loan that he or she would greatly profit from even though the borrower is financially unfit to repay it.
This offense can be considered a form of grand theft as outlined by Penal Code Section 487 since the lender is essentially taking more money than the borrower actually has.
Illegal Property Flipping
Flipping homes mean that a home was purchased at a low price, upgraded and remodeled, and sold for a higher price. However, illegal property flipping usually involves making false appraisals about the property, and/or presenting false loan documents to raise the property’s value.
Though there is no specific law about illegal flipping practices, this form of fraud may be charged as grand theft under Penal Code Section 487 since the flip would be taking more money than is required through false pretenses.
In the state of California, there is such a thing as check fraud as defined under Penal Code Section 476. This offense indicates that someone intended to defraud another person by using a check form of payment. Examples of this can offense include forging the name on the check, changing the amount of money written on the check, or fabricating a fake check.
This is a wobbler offense and can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony in California. As a misdemeanor, the defendant potentially faces up to one (1) year in jail and/or a fine of $1,000. As a felony, the defendant potentially faces sixteen (16) months, two (2), or three (3) years in jail and/or a fine of $10,000.
Credit Card Fraud
Credit card fraud indicates fraudulent activity with a credit or debit card form of payment, as covered under Penal Code Sections 484e – 484i. Examples include using another individual’s credit or debit card without their authorization, selling or buying counterfeit credit or debit cards, or, even, using your own credit or debit card when it has expired or has been revoked. Not only does credit card fraud cover fraudulent activity the payment form itself, but it also includes any account details or information that may be linked to a credit or debit card.
Due to multiple types of credit card fraud offenses, there are different punishments the defendant may face. A credit card fraud offense may even be charged as a forgery or theft offense depending on the circumstances of the case.
Securities fraud deals with certain business transaction in which an individual receives some sort of ownership or stake in a company. For example, this can include things like stocks and investments. This offense can include activities such as selling off “unqualified” securities, selling off securities that do not meet qualification terms, presenting misleading information or behavior when selling off or buying securities, making false statements during a transaction, and insider trading. Often times, a securities fraud offense may arise from not filling out the proper paperwork or not properly disclosing information about securities.
Most of the information dealing with securities and fraudulent activity can be found under the California Corporate Securities Law of 1968.
Forgery and Identity Theft
Forging, Counterfeiting, or Possessing A Fraudulent Public Seal
Under Penal Code Section 472, it is illegal to forge, counterfeit, or possess a fraudulent public seal. Usually, public seals are used to authentic governmental documents, such as a driver’s licenses or birth certificates. Also, it is illegal to forge a public seal of a police department or any other type of governmental agency. These false seals are often used to defraud others.
This offense may be tried as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The penalties potentially include between sixteen (16) months and five (5) years in jail, and between $1,000 and $10,000 in fines.
Under Penal Code Section 529, it is illegal to falsely impersonate another individual publicly or privately. It is also a crime to make the other individual liable for any crimes or money. This can include situations in which you signed someone else’s name on a document, or if you used another person’s identity to receive benefits. A false impersonation may also be included in credit card fraud cases, or any other type of fraud case in which the defendant used another person’s name to gain benefits.
This type of offense may be tried as either a misdemeanor or a felony in California. The penalties may include a fine of $10,000 and between sixteen (16) and five (5) years in jail.
Senior fraud is considered to be a part of elderly abuse. As outlined under Penal Code Section 368, it is considered fraud if an elderly person has endured financial abuse. Usually, senior fraud occurs through various fraudulent schemes. In most cases, elderly individuals are taken advantage of due to their age often for financial gain.
This is considered a wobbler offense. Penalties may include one (1) year in jail or up to five (5) years in state prison. Also, fines can range from $1,000 to $10,000 depending on the circumstances of the case.
Nursing Home Fraud
Similarly, nursing home fraud is considered elderly abuse only it takes place in a nursing home as its name suggests. This can include when an employee of the home makes a senior sign their property over, forges the senior’s name on a check or overbills the senior for their services.
Finding a Criminal Lawyer Near Me
In the state of California, there is a variety of fraud type of offenses and each has its own severe punishment. It all comes down to the circumstances and details of each case. It can become a headache to tackle a fraud case on your own. If you, or anyone you know, has been charged with some form of fraud in the Los Angeles area, you need good legal advice. The first step towards success is finding the best lawyers.
Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer can help you. With our team of highly qualified and well-experienced lawyers, we can provide you with great expertise in any type of fraud case. Do not hesitate to contact our Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer at 310-502-1314. Our team is ready and willing to take your call so that we can quickly review your case.