Have you been scammed by an unsuspecting business? It can oftentimes result in severe consequences for those participating in a scam.
Unfortunately, fraud is not a victimless crime. Victims can suffer numerous consequences. They might not only lose money, time, and a sense of wellbeing. They may also suffer from mental health and physical symptoms after being defrauded.
This is why law enforcement take fraud so seriously. This is also why victims should consider the help of a criminal defense lawyer to aid them in recovering from fraud as quickly as possible. Being faced with fraud is a very scary prospect but it is something a criminal defense lawyer will understand well. They can make your case easier to handle.
Now, let’s look a little at the definition of fraud and its types.
What Is Fraud?
Fraud involves lying in its most basic form. It’s when an individual obtains something by being less than truthful. Prosecutors also consider the purpose behind the lie when they determine whether a criminal act has been perpetrated.
You might be engaged in a form of fraud if you choose to lie because you can’t get what you want without misrepresenting or fudging the facts. Individuals enter into risky territory when they choose to lie for monetary purposes.
It might be considered fraud if you tell someone you are a licensed contractor when you are not, for example. You might do this in order to make someone comfortable enough to allow you to do work on their home.
Another person might fraudulently list an item for sale. For example, if your listing on eBay makes it seem as if you’re listing a PS4 or Xbox for sale though you’re really only selling its box. You would understand that no one would pay $300 for a box and that anyone buying it would only do so if they were mistaken.
These are examples of fraud that prove how important the purpose behind the misrepresentation is. The individual is aware they are being less than truthful in both cases. In cases of fraud, the individual often understands that someone would not buy their item or service without knowing the full truth. This is why they would subsequently choose to lie.
Those individuals are gambling with their fate.
The Difference Between Criminal and Civil Fraud
There are differences between criminal and civil fraud cases.
Civil fraud cases involve being sued by the individual you harmed. That means that an important component of the case is that someone was actually harmed by your actions. That person must then sue you in order to recoup their losses. They may sue you for whatever they lost due to the fraud, otherwise known as the damages to that individual.
Meanwhile, you do not need an actual victim in order to have a criminal fraud case brought against you. All you need is for a prosecutor to decide that it was your intention to defraud someone. This means that you knowingly and willingly misrepresented yourself in order to wrongfully obtain something from your potential victim. Oftentimes, criminal fraud cases are gravely serious.
There are a few reasons for this. The proliferation of the internet means that it is oftentimes used in order to commit acts of fraud. This may include something like a mass scam.
An example of this would be listing a property for sale that you do not actually own. You might then accept security deposits without the ability to provide anything in return. You’d likely use the internet in this case. This adds an even more troubling component to the case.
“Crossing state lines” in order to commit your crime will mean you have actually committed a federal crime. It’s likely you will be considered to have crossed state lines if you have used the internet to scam numerous victims. That means that the consequences of committing this type of fraud will be even more severe.
The Consequences of Mass Scams
If prosecutors think you might be guilty of fraud you may be looking at serious ramifications. This is especially the case if you’re charged with the intention of perpetrating a mass scam, for reasons we’ve already examined. You may be forced to pay fines and you may even be looking at jail time.
Whether a victim or perpetrator, a criminal defense lawyer can help you navigate your case wisely. You should consider retaining the services of one if you think you might be on the cusp of a fraud case.