It may seem like nothing more than a little white lie, something just short of the whole truth. Maybe it isn’t even a lie at all—only failing to fully disclose all of the information required. What seems like blurring the truth or making a small misrepresentation can quickly lead to criminal charges when a crime is perpetrated in order to gain a financial advantage or personal profit at the expense of another.
Speak for Themselves
Depending on the amount of money or value of property gained, the crime may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, and a conviction can lead to years in prison as well as collateral consequences of a felony record. Like most white collar crimes, charges can be brought as either a state or federal offense, depending in part upon how the scheme was perpetrated and who was the victim.
If you have been accused of a crime, your personal and professional reputations are at stake. You may be subject to criminal prosecution, and without experienced legal defense counsel on your side, you could be facing years in prison. At Phillips & Associates, our reputation as skillful negotiators and trial lawyers is built upon our tradition of successful white collar crime defense.
If you are facing state of federal charges, you may be in for the most difficult battle of your life. Losing the fight may cost you your freedom, your business, and your personal relationships. We are here to fight for you, providing the strongest defense possible against the criminal charge or charges levied against you. Neither an error in judgment nor a false accusation should ruin your life. We can protect your rights and your future with skillful legal representation.
What is Criminal Fraud?
At its simplest, it is any intentional act of deception carried out for personal gain. It is a criminal offense, but a victim may also be able to pursue a civil claim against the perpetrator. The types and the ways in which schemes are committed are virtually infinite. They can include false billing, hiding assets, underreporting income, collecting deposits without completing work, and more. In most cases, it's is an attempt to gain unearned or undeserved income and benefits through misrepresentation, false claims, and other deceptions.
Types of Fraud
- Health Care, Medicare, or Medicaid
- Identity Theft
- Credit Card
- Check – Bad Checks, Bogus Checks, and Check Kiting
- Mail, Wire, and Internet
- Securities and Insider Trading
- Ponzi Schemes and Investment
- Tax Evasion
- Advance Fee Schemes
- Pyramid Schemes
- Debt Elimination Schemes
The types and the ways of carrying out these schemes are as varied as the individuals who commit the crimes. They may be perpetrated by a stereotypical seedy con man looking to gain a quick buck, or it may be perpetrated by an affluent and apparently reputable corporate executive. Even within the seemingly endless types of fraudulent activity, there are almost limitless ways of committing each offense. Examples of common types and methods for perpetrating the crime follow.
Health Care, Medicare, and Medicaid Fraud
Health care scams may be perpetrated by an individual subscriber, but frequently, the crime is committed by physicians who attempt to gain payment for services not rendered. Medicare fraud is a federal offense because Medicare is a federal program administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). SoonerCare is the Oklahoma Medicaid program, which is funded jointly by the state and federal governments.
Health care scams are generally committed through false billing, but it may be carried out in a number of ways:
- Billing for medical tests and services not rendered; phantom billing
- Billing for new equipment but providing a patient with used equipment
- Performing unnecessary procedures
- Billing for more expensive equipment than that provided to the patient
- Conducting unnecessary tests
- Code jamming, or using fake diagnostic codes
- Unbundling or double billing, in which two codes are used to cover the same service
Medicare fraud is subject to prosecution under the federal False Claims Act among other statutes. The FBI reports that fraudulent health care costs the country approximately $80 billion per year. Because of the high cost, it is prosecuted vigorously and subject to harsh penalties.
Tax Fraud and Tax Evasion
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) finds that a large percentage of income tax returns filed each year contain errors. When those errors appear to be intentional acts of deception, the IRS may conduct an audit or launch an investigation.
Tax fraud occurs when an individual intentionally makes false claims on an income tax return in order to avoid paying taxes (tax evasion), reduce his or her tax burden, or obtain an unwarranted tax refund.
- Underreporting income
- Omitting income
- Overstating deductions or claiming false deductions
- Keeping two sets of accounting books
- Falsifying account entries or books
- Deducting personal expenses as business expenses
- Hiding assets and income
Unintentional mistakes are not likely subject to criminal prosecution, but a deliberate attempt to falsify tax returns to avoid paying taxes is a federal offense subject to significant financial penalties and years in prison.
The act of using a computer to take or alter electronic data, or to gain unlawful use of a computer or system. In the United States, computer these types of acts are specifically proscribed by the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which criminalizes computer-related acts under federal jurisdiction.
Here is a more detailed explanation:
Willfully, and without authorization, gain or attempt to gain access to and damage, modify, alter, delete, destroy, copy, make use of, disclose or take possession of a computer, computer system, computer network or any other property;
Use a computer, computer system, computer network or any other property as hereinbefore defined for the purpose of devising or executing a scheme or artifice with the intent to defraud, deceive, extort or for the purpose of controlling or obtaining money, property, services or other thing of value by means of a false or fraudulent pretense or representation;
Willfully exceed the limits of authorization and damage, modify, alter, destroy, copy, delete, disclose or take possession of a computer, computer system, computer network or any other property;
Willfully and without authorization, gain or attempt to gain access to a computer, computer system, computer network or any other property;
Willfully and without authorization use or cause to be used computer services;
Willfully and without authorization disrupt or cause the disruption of computer services or deny or cause the denial of access or other computer services to an authorized user of a computer, computer system or computer network. (source findlaw.com)
White Collar Crimes Defense in Oklahoma
A scheme may be as simple as going door-to-door to collect money for fraudulent charities, or it may be as complex as multi-million dollar investment schemes. It may be conducted using high-tech equipment and internet resources, or it may use only the telephone or postal mail.
Whether you have been accused of a state offense or a federal offense, finding skillful representation from an experienced white collar crime lawyer is critical to your defense. Do not hesitate to get the help you need to protect your business, your finances, and your reputation. Call Phillips & Associates today to schedule your free consultation with a leading fraud lawyer in Oklahoma.
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