You will face fraud-related charges if you use deceit or deception to commit an act that causes you to enjoy an unfair or undeserved advantage over another person. Your actions must also cause the other person to suffer loss or harm. Fraudulent acts are usually motivated by financial gain or a desire to evade criminal responsibility. The law has several fraudulent acts under various statutes, with different penalties for those convicted. Fraud crimes are mainly white-collar offenses that can result in criminal charges in federal and state courts. It helps to work closely with an experienced criminal attorney if you face fraud charges in Monterey. Our team at Monterey Criminal Attorney is ready and willing to take up your case. We use the best strategies and fight aggressively to deliver a fair outcome for our client’s cases.

Typical Fraud Crimes Under California Law

Prosecutors charge fraud crimes according to the details of your case and your criminal history. Your punishment will also be based on the exact facts of your case. Here are the most typical fraud crimes you can face charges for under the law. For a more detailed understanding of your legal charges and their implications, talk to an experienced criminal attorney:

Insurance Fraud

The prosecutor can file an insurance fraud-related charge against you if you receive or attempt to receive payments or insurance benefits you do not deserve. There are several types of insurance fraud crimes under the law, including the following:

Car Insurance Fraud

Your charges for car insurance fraud could occur if you knowingly file a false claim with your insurance provider or deceive your insurer to the point where you receive insurance benefits you do not deserve. Here are the statutes under which you could face charges if you commit car insurance fraud:

  • You will face charges under PC 548 if you abandon, damage, dispose of, injure, or hide your vehicle to defraud your car insurance provider. The offense is mainly a felony, attracting a maximum five-year prison sentence and a court fine of $5,000.
  • Penal Code 550(a)(4 if you knowingly file a fake insurance crime with your insurer for your vehicle's destruction, damage, or conversion. You could also face charges under this law if you file multiple insurance claims for one loss or damage. The offense is also a felony, punishable by a five-year prison sentence. It is also subject to sentence enhancement according to the details of your case.
  • Penal Code 550(a)(3) if you file a fake claim with your auto insurer. The prosecutor must specifically demonstrate that you caused an accident or intentionally engaged in an accident with the intent to submit a fraudulent claim to the insurer. The offense is a felony, with a five-year prison sentence and a $50,000 court fine.

Healthcare/Medical Insurance Fraud

You commit this fraud if your actions as a doctor, nurse, or other healthcare worker are intended to defraud an insurance provider. Here are some common types of insurance fraud in the medical field under the law:

  • Submitting an insurance claim for the services you have not rendered.
  • Providing an unnecessary service and billing it to the client’s insurance provider.
  • Charging clients with insurance coverage more money for specific procedures and treatments than those paying out of their pocket.
  • Submitting multiple insurance claims for one service.
  • Claiming a refund for services you undercharged and neglecting to do something for those that you overcharged.
  • Knowingly preparing or authorizing documents for fraudulent claims.

The penalties you receive for healthcare or medical insurance fraud are based on the details of your case and the value of false claims. Any fraudulent claims under $950 attract a misdemeanor charge, which is punishable by a six-month jail sentence. Fraudulent claims of over $950 can attract a felony or misdemeanor charge. A felony conviction is punishable by two years in prison and a court fine of $50,000, or twice the amount involved.

A conviction under this law could also lead to the suspension or revoking of your practicing license.

Unemployment Insurance Fraud

You could face charges for unemployment insurance fraud as an employee or employer. Here are some ways you can commit this offense as an employee:

  • Receiving unemployment benefits when you are at work and neglecting to report your income.
  • Receiving other types of benefits and failing to report.
  • Using false personal information, like a name, SSN, and employment details, to apply for unemployment benefits.
  • Receiving or attempting to receive unemployment benefits from another state while still living in California.
  • Cashing someone else’s unemployment benefit check without their consent.
  • Lying about your effort to apply for employment.
  • Lying about the reasons for losing your job.

Here are ways in which you could commit this fraud as an employer:

  • If you intentionally falsify information about why you terminated a particular employee to avoid submitting their benefits to the program,
  • If you knowingly withhold deductions from an employee and fail to submit them to the program.

Under Penal Code 550, this is a wobbler offense for which the prosecutor can file felony or misdemeanor charges. For misdemeanor charges, you could receive a jail sentence of six months and a court fine of $1000. For a felony charge, the penalty could be a five-year jail term and a court fine of $50,000.

Other consequences of a conviction for this fraud include:

  • Ineligibility for other benefits.
  • Professional discipline.
  • Repaying the benefits with a 30% penalty.

Real Estate Fraud

If you commit fraud in the real estate business, you will face serious criminal charges, punishable by a lengthy prison term and a hefty court fine. Fraud in the real estate industry can take several forms and happen at any phase of a real estate transaction. The prosecutor must find an ideal theory when charging real estate or mortgage fraud cases. Here are the charges you can face for this kind of offense:

Theft through False Pretense

If you misrepresent yourself or make false promises in a transaction, the prosecutor can file charges for stealing under false pretenses. But they must prove these elements for the judge to deliver a guilty verdict:

  • You willingly deceived a property owner or mortgage lender.
  • You did so by misrepresenting yourself or making a false promise.
  • The victim believed you or your promise and signed over their property or money to you.

Foreclosure Fraud

It is a type of fraud you commit concerning the foreclosure process. For example, you could have done the following:

  • Charged a homeowner some money for services you had not rendered.
  • Charging more than you should for a particular service.
  • Accepting money from an independent party for services and failing to inform or ask the homeowner.
  • Taking a homeowner’s power of attorney without their consent.
  • Making the homeowner sign a fraudulent agreement.

Rent Skimming

You could face charges for rent skimming under real estate fraud for the following reasons:

  • Failing to pay a mortgage on a property you have rented out one year after acquiring it.
  • Pretending to be the owner of a real estate property, renting it out, and keeping the rental money without informing its owner.

Forging Deeds and Documents

You could also face real estate fraud charges for forging deeds and documents and using them to benefit financially or cause the owner harm or financial loss. You could do this by registering, recording, or filing forged or falsified documents with the government, knowing too well that the documents or deeds you are filing are fake.

Typically, prosecutors treat real estate fraud as grand theft or petty theft, depending on the details of your case. You will face petty theft charges if the fraud’s value exceeds $950. The prosecutor can file felony charges if the facts of your case support grand theft charges. In that case, you could face a three-year prison sentence upon conviction.

Charges for filing a forged document are always felonies, punishable by a three-year prison sentence and a $10,000 court fine.

Financial Fraud

Cases of financial fraud are more common than other fraud-related crimes. The most common ones are:

Check Fraud

Under PC 476, check fraud occurs when you do or attempt to do the following:

  • You make, pass, use, or possess a fictitious, altered, or false check to receive a payment.
  • You do so with the full knowledge that the review is fraudulent or fictitious.
  • You intend to pass or use it as a genuine check.
  • You intend to defraud.

District attorneys treat check fraud as forgery, making it a wobbler offense. A misdemeanor charge is punishable by one year in jail and a court fine of $1,000. A felony charge is punishable by a three-year prison sentence and a court fine of $10,000.

A check fraud conviction carries severe immigration consequences that can result in deportation or being marked as inadmissible to the United States. Additionally, you could lose your right to buy or possess a firearm after a felony conviction.

Credit Card Fraud

You can commit credit card fraud in several ways. These ways are covered under different statutes, as follows:

  • Selling or possessing another person’s credit card or details on their credit card without the owner’s consent, under PC 484(e). A violation of this law is treated like grand theft, punishable by a three-year prison sentence.
  • Altering a person’s credit card by changing its information or signing a different name without its owner’s consent, under Penal Code 484(f). The offense can be a misdemeanor, punishable by a year in jail, or a felony, with a penalty of three years.
  • Using a credit card or credit card details to defraud another person or business, according to PC 484(g). The offense is prosecuted as grand theft or petty theft, depending on the money involved.
  • Knowingly accepting payment from a forged or stolen credit card or presenting false evidence of credit card payment to obtain products or services under PC 484(h). The prosecutor charges this offense as grand theft or petty theft, depending on the money involved.
  • Counterfeiting, using a fake credit card, or possessing equipment to make phony credit cards under PC 484(i). You can face felony or misdemeanor charges for this offense, with a maximum sentence of three years.
  • Knowingly giving out another person’s credit card details for fraud under PC 484(j).

Securities Fraud

The law against securities fraud aims to safeguard investors. The law punishes various actions, including the following:

  • Selling or marketing unqualified securities.
  • Not adhering to the terms of selling securities with an intent to defraud.
  • Providing misleading or false details or refusing to give essential information when selling or marketing securities.
  • Insider trading, whereby a person accesses insider information because of their close connection with a business and uses that information for profits.

The offense is mainly a wobbler, meaning the prosecutor can bring felony or misdemeanor charges against you. Penalties could include a fine of up to one million dollars or a three-year prison sentence.

If you are guilty of manipulating trading results or insider trading, you could receive a ten-million-dollar fine and/or a five-year prison sentence.

You can also face charges in federal court for disregarding federal laws against securities fraud. In this case, penalties could include a twenty-year prison sentence.

Identity Theft

According to Penal Code 530.5, you commit identity theft when you use a person’s identifying details for fraud. The prosecutor must prove these elements for the judge to declare you guilty of identity theft:

  • You knowingly obtained someone else’s identifying details and used the data without the owner’s consent.
  • You received a person’s identifying details without their knowledge to defraud.
  • You sold, transferred, or furnished a person with someone else’s identifying details for that person to defraud.
  • You sold, transferred, or provided a person with someone else’s identifying data, with the full knowledge that the person would use that data for fraud.

A person’s identifying details, in this case, refer to their:

  • Name, telephone number, and address.
  • Tax identification.
  • SSN.
  • Driver’s license information.
  • Employee or student ID number.
  • Their mother’s middle name.
  • Credit card or bank account information.
  • Birth or death certificate information.

The offense is a wobbler. A misdemeanor is punishable by a year in jail, while a felony is punishable by three years. The judge could also order you to pay a $1,000 fine for a misdemeanor or $10,000 for a felony conviction.

A conviction for identity theft has several other consequences that could impact your life. For example, it will leave you with a damaging criminal record and could affect your immigration status and rights to own or purchase a firearm.

Cybercrime or Internet Fraud

It is a type of fraud that happens on the internet. Examples of cyber acts that could suffice for internet fraud are:

  • Accessing and using another person’s computer details without their consent.
  • Running fraudulent schemes via the Internet or email.
  • Online phishing schemes.

You could face identity theft charges for phishing online activity if the following are true:

  • You knowingly obtained a person’s identifying details and used the information illegally and without the owner’s consent.
  • You acquired or possessed someone else’s personal data without their permission for fraud.
  • You sold, transferred, or furnished a person with someone else’s personal data without the owner’s consent and for fraud.
  • You sold, transferred, or furnished a person with someone else’s information, knowing the person would use that data for fraud.

Phishing is a wobbler offense, punishable by a three-year prison sentence.

You could also face phishing charges under Section 22948 of the Business & Professions Act. Using the internet, webpages, or emails to access a person’s details is an offense. This violation will also result in civil liability in civil court.

You can face charges under PC 502 for accessing another person’s computer without their consent. The prosecutor will prove these elements to obtain a guilty verdict:

  • You accessed or helped another person access someone else’s computer, data, software, or computer network against the owner’s consent.
  • You intended to harm or defraud the owner or to commit an offense.
  • Your actions were willful and against the owner’s consent.

PC 502 is a wobbler offense. A misdemeanor is punishable by one year of incarceration and a court fine of $5000. A felony conviction is punishable by a three-year prison sentence and a court fine of $10,000.

According to your case's facts, Internet fraud can also result in federal court charges. Thus, it is advisable to engage the help of a skilled criminal attorney to fight your charges and avoid a conviction.

How To Fight Fraud-Related Charges

Fraud crimes are severely punished. A conviction can result in time in jail, a hefty court fine, a damaging criminal record, and other life-changing consequences, including the loss of professional licenses, gun rights, and deportation. That is why you must hire an attorney right after your arrest for fraud. Fortunately, skilled criminal attorneys can use various legal defense strategies to change the outcome of their client’s cases. Here are the techniques your attorney can use to obtain a fair outcome for your situation:

You Are Mistakenly Identified

Most white-collar crimes, like fraud, occur behind closed doors and are committed by people who do not want to be found. During investigations, blame could fall on anyone with access to documents or information used in fraud. That is why it is possible to be mistakenly identified as the perpetrator of an offense you did not commit in the first place. An aggressive attorney will gather and present solid evidence to demonstrate that you are not the actual perpetrator. If they succeed, the judge will dismiss your charges.

It Was a Misunderstanding

Some fraud cases arise because of a misunderstanding or mistake of facts. Another person or business can accuse you of trying to defraud them while, in actuality, you are conducting a legit business. Sometimes you could make mistakes because you need critical, adequate, or correct information. A skilled attorney can shed light on the case to help the jury understand the misunderstandings or errors you could have made. The judge will dismiss your charges if you demonstrate that your actions were innocent.

You Did Not Intend to Defraud

Most fraud crimes require an intent to defraud as one of the elements of the crime that the prosecutor must prove for your case to hold. If you use another person’s bank details, credit card details, or computer information, your actions must be geared toward defrauding the information’s owner. The prosecutor must also demonstrate that your actions were willful. The judge will dismiss your charges if you did not act willfully or intend to defraud the alleged victim. For example, you could have encountered another person’s information by mistake, or someone else could have tricked you into committing fraud without your knowledge.

The Prosecutor Lacks Sufficient Evidence

The police must investigate your case in-depth to obtain solid evidence for the judge to deliver a guilty verdict. The prosecutor relies on that evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. If they lack sufficient evidence, the prosecutor will not prove all elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. In that case, the judge will dismiss your charges.

You Had The Owner’s Consent

If you face fraud charges for using another person’s credit or debit card, or their credit card or bank account details, the judge can dismiss your charges if you demonstrate that you had the owner’s consent. Consent means that the owner of the card or the information you used was aware that you were using their card or statement and had agreed with it.

Find an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

Fraud -related cases are common and are the most severely punished offenses under the law. But you can change the outcome of your case by engaging the help and support of an experienced criminal attorney. A skilled attorney will streamline your legal process, explain your options, and help you plan your defense. They will also fight alongside you for the best possible outcome for your case. We have extensive experience handling fraud cases at Monterey Criminal Attorney. Thus, we could be your best choice if you need quality legal services in Monterey. Contact us at 831- 574-1791 right after your arrest to discuss your case and options.