What Constitutes Fraud in California?
If you are charged with any type of fraud in Southern California, contact an Orange County fraud attorney immediately. Fraud happens when someone intentionally deceives another person either for unfair personal gain or to steal from or harm that person or a third person.
Various types of fraud may be charged and prosecuted under several different California laws. What these crimes have in common is their (usually) financial and non-violent nature. Fraud crimes are considered “white-collar” crimes and are aggressively prosecuted in California.
Many fraud crimes in California are classified as felonies. Other fraud crimes are “wobblers” that may be prosecuted as felonies or as misdemeanors, depending on the details of the charge and the discretion of the prosecutor. Very few fraud crimes are always misdemeanors.
What Are the Main Categories of Fraud?
Three predominant types of fraud are found in California: forgery and identity theft, real estate fraud, and insurance fraud.
While the following list of fraud crimes in California is not exhaustive, if you are charged with any of these offenses or with any other white-collar crime in this state, you must be advised and defended by an Orange County fraud lawyer, and you must contact that lawyer at once.
What Constitutes Real Estate Fraud?
The State of California imposes strict penalties on anyone who is convicted of making false statements in a real estate transaction. Real estate fraud in this state includes but is not limited to:
- Foreclosure fraud: Foreclosure fraud happens in California when someone promises to help a homeowner avoid foreclosure, but the person is actually seeking to acquire profits or title to the property.
- Using stolen or forged documents: When a person knowingly uses stolen or forged powers of attorney, deeds, mortgage documents, or other illegal or invalid documents to obtain profits or transfer title fraudulently, it’s real estate fraud.
- Illegal flipping: Illegal flipping happens when a property “flipper” deceives someone about a property’s real value by using fraudulent loan documents and/or false property appraisals.
What Constitutes Insurance Fraud?
Insurance fraud happens when someone tries to acquire insurance payouts or benefits for which that person is not qualified or eligible. Insurance fraud in this state includes but is not limited to:
- Automobile insurance fraud: Auto insurance fraud happens when a person intentionally destroys or damages a vehicle, inflates a claim, or stages a phony accident in order to obtain a payout unfairly.
- Health insurance fraud: Health insurance fraud includes billing for unrendered services, billing for a costlier procedure than the procedure that was performed, falsifying records, or making false statements in order to obtain MediCal benefits.
- Welfare/unemployment fraud: Welfare/unemployment fraud may include making false statements about your employment status, your employment search, or your income.
- Workers’ comp fraud: Workers’ comp fraud happens when someone who is injured (or purportedly injured) at work makes false claims in order to receive (or receive more) workers’ compensation benefits.
What Constitutes Forgery or Identity Theft?
Forgery and identity theft happen when a person, for personal financial gain, uses someone else’s personal information or identity fraudulently or forges documents so that the documents seem authentic. Forgery and identity theft include but are not limited to:
- Credit card fraud: Credit card fraud happens when someone manufactures or sells phony credit cards or uses another person’s card without that person’s consent.
- Check fraud: Check fraud happens when someone uses someone else’s checks or bank account details for unauthorized withdrawals, uses counterfeit checks, or transfers funds without authorization.
- Using fake IDs: When someone manufactures or uses a fake California driver’s license or other official ID card, even if no financial gain is involved, it is considered forgery.
- Impersonation: Impersonating another person is a crime when someone uses someone else’s identity for financial gain or in order to harm that person or a third person.
What Other Crimes are Defined as Fraud?
Some fraud crimes do not fit into the three main fraud categories. These crimes include but are not limited to online fraud (using the internet to defraud others); telemarketing fraud (using telephones to defraud others); and senior fraud (defrauding someone 65 years old or older).
How Are Fraud Crimes Handled in California?
Specific California laws address some of the crimes that are considered fraud in this state. However, many fraud crimes in California are charged as grand theft, which is a felony.
Petty theft crimes are usually “wobblers,” that is, offenses that may be prosecuted as misdemeanors or as felonies at the prosecutor’s discretion. However, any second or subsequent petty theft offense in this state is automatically prosecuted as a felony.
A felony fraud conviction in California may be penalized with a lengthy prison sentence. If the amount involved exceeds $500,000, an additional five years may be added to the sentence. Even a misdemeanor fraud conviction in this state can land you in jail for up to a year.
What Should You Do if You’re Charged With a Fraud Crime?
If you are charged with a fraud crime in Southern California, an Orange County fraud lawyer will review the case against you, interrogate any witnesses, and protect your legal rights.
If the charge against you cannot be dropped or dismissed, and if the evidence against you is persuasive, your defense attorney may work to negotiate an acceptable plea bargain on your behalf. However, if you are innocent, you should insist on your right to a trial by jury.
If your fraud case goes to trial, your defense lawyer will cast doubt on the state’s evidence and work to bring the case to its best possible outcome. But with so many attorneys in Southern California, how can you find an experienced and skilled fraud attorney?
Why Should You Select Attorney Diane C. Bass?
There is no need to search extensively for the right fraud lawyer. Orange County fraud attorney Diane C. Bass has over twenty-five years of criminal defense experience. Her practice focuses on defending those charged with fraud and other white-collar crimes in Southern California.
Attorney Diane C. Bass will provide a no-cost, no-obligation evaluation of your fraud case and will fight aggressively for the justice you need. She advises and successfully defends clients charged with embezzlement, money laundering, fraud, and other white-collar crimes.
If you are accused of fraud in Southern California, now or in the future, promptly contact the Law Office of Diane C. Bass at 949-577-8368.