Criminal fraud takes many forms. It can be simple or quite extensive and involve thousands or even millions of dollars.
The elements of criminal fraud are generally uniform in all states. They include (1) making a material misrepresentation of a fact; (2) which the defendant knew to be false or misleading or believed it to be so, (3) that the victim justifiably relied on; (4) and the victim’s reliance led to an actual pecuniary or personal loss. All elements must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
One of the more harmful types of criminal fraud is identity theft because of the potential harm it can cause to a victim. Taking someone’s identifying information such as a Social Security number, bank account number, or passwords can lead to financial havoc for the victim as well as for others.
Financial fraud, or embezzlement, occurs when persons in a fiduciary capacity unlawfully transfer funds from another person’s financial accounts for their own use. Insider trading that gives an investor an unfair advantage is a serious criminal fraud that lead to a felony conviction and serious prison time for the investor.
Criminal fraud in a government setting can occur with Medicare fraud when healthcare providers overcharge or bill for nonexistent medical services. People applying for benefits commit criminal fraud when they provide false information regarding their assets and income.
The penalties for criminal fraud usually depend upon the nature and extent of the fraud as well as the value of the property misappropriated. Securities fraud and identity theft are usually considered felonies as is governmental fraud. For other criminal fraud, any property valued at over $1,000 is considered a felony with considerable prison time at stake for the offender.
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