Federal Lawyer for Financial Crimes and Fraud
White-collar crime is a broad term that is used to include non-violent, profit motivated crimes that are thought to be committed by business people and government professionals. The white-collar crime definition is used to distinguish “street crimes” that include acts such as murder, rape, robbery, and drug trafficking.
Because these cases are most often complex and financial in nature, they are often investigated and prosecuted by federal government agencies. You can expect the investigation to be thorough and will likely take a significant amount of time. However, the prosecution (once a criminal case has been filed) will be swift and harsh. We cannot stress enough, you should contact a white-collar criminal defense attorney as soon as you have a concern that you (or someone you are associated with) is under investigation.
Even if you have done nothing wrong, you need to be vigilant. Once federal agents identify investigation targets, the agents will apply significant pressure on these targets to “cooperate” with the investigation. This is when the blame shifting and finger pointing begins. Regardless of how much you trust a business associate or friend, when they are facing a significant federal prison sentence, they are almost certainly willing to do anything to get out of it. They will be presented with the “opportunity” to implicate others in exchange for leniency. Suddenly, you have become the primary target and agents focus their efforts on building a case against you.
There are a variety of offenses that are classified as white-collar crimes, which are discussed in the sections below.
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Violating antitrust laws puts you in a bad position, and you don’t want to face it alone. Antitrust laws exist to prevent price fixing, monopolization and other abusive business tactics. The goal of these laws is to keep the market fair and to let supply and demand dictate the price of goods and services.
Violations of antitrust laws disrupt the market and discourage fair competition, reducing innovation and causing other issues. If a federal court finds you guilty of antitrust violations, you can face up to three years in prison and fines of up to $3 million. The federal court can even charge your business or corporation with antitrust violations, and your business could then face fines up to $10 million.
Computer and Internet Fraud
The federal government put computer and internet fraud laws in place to protect people and businesses from cyberattacks. One example of computer fraud is hacking into a database to gain access to private information. Using a network of servers to attack a website is another example of computer and internet fraud.
If you use a computer to alter information on a server to which you don’t have legal access, the federal government can charge you with computer and internet fraud. Since these laws cover a range of crimes, you can face a range of penalties if convicted. In most cases, you can face fines of up to $250,000 and up to 20 years behind bars.
Credit Card Fraud
Credit card fraud is the unauthorized use of a person’s credit card for financial gain. Credit card fraud is sometimes a state crime, but the federal government presses charges in most cases. The FBI investigates credit card fraud by reviewing timestamps of purchases, pulling video footage and interviewing shop workers.
The FBI investigates online credit card fraud by reviewing IP addresses and linking them to the mailing address of the suspect. If the amount you gain is more than $1,000, you can face up to 15 years in prison and fines of up to $25,000.
Phone and Telemarketing Fraud
Phone and telemarketing fraud cover a variety of crimes committed over the phone for financial gain. In some cases of phone fraud, a caller uses a fake phone number and pretends to be from the person’s bank. In other cases, the caller pretends to be from a service provider to which the person owes a small amount of money, such as $5. After collecting the payment information, the caller then goes on to commit identity theft and other crimes. Some callers pretend to be from the IRS and threaten the person with time in jail if they don’t send a wire transfer. If the federal government earns a conviction, you could face fines of up to $100,000 and several years in prison.
Bankruptcy fraud is a crime in which you use bankruptcy for financial gain. It can also include lying about or trying to hide your assets so that you don’t lose them after filing. Also, if you take out a loan or credit card knowing that you will file bankruptcy so that you don’t have to repay it, the federal government can press charges against you. You face steep fines and up to five years in federal prison for this crime.
Medicare and Medicaid Fraud
Medicare and Medicaid fraud are crimes committed by health care providers. Activities that constitute this crime include double billing and billing for services that were never offered. People who have Medicare or Medicaid insurance can also be guilty of fraud. For example, someone with Medicaid gives their identification card to another person.
Another example of fraud is when a patient uses insurance to get items and then gives those items to a different person. Also, investigations can go on for months or years before you even know you are facing charges. In criminal court, you could face fines of up to $20,000 and up to five years behind bars. If you are a health care provider, you can lose your license and career, so you keep paying the price for the rest of your life.
Violations of Environmental Laws
Environmental Laws exist to protect people, property and the environment from harmful substances. Most environmental law violations result in civil actions, such as fines and court orders to clean up the mess you made. If the Environmental Protection Agency believes you willingly violated environmental laws and that your violation resulted in serious harm, you can face federal charges. You can face additional charges for each person or company impacted by your behavior. If you are convicted, you can expect a combination of fines and prison time.
Insurance fraud covers a range of illegal actions that attempt to cheat the insurance process. Insurance companies and people with insurance coverage can commit this type of fraud, and the fallout depends on the extent of the damage. An insurance company commits fraud when it tries denying a policyholder funds to which the policyholder is entitled.
Policyholders commit insurance fraud when they try obtaining benefits to which they are not entitled. For example, imagine a small-business owner has theft insurance to protect his shop from theft. If the small-business owner lies about a theft that never happened to collect unfair compensation, he has committed insurance fraud. You can face jail time and fines if the court finds you guilty.
Mail fraud is a crime in which someone sends fake documents through the mail for financial gain. One example is a person accused of sending fake documents pretending to be a charity organization. One person sets up fake accounts and tries tricking another person into sending funds to it.
Another example is someone sending fake purchase forms that appear to come from trusted companies. These forms appear to offer steep discounts on electronics and other valuable items. When officials suspect someone has committed mail fraud, they follow the money transfers to find the one pulling the strings. You can face up to 20 years behind bars for each mail fraud charge if the court convicts you.
Government fraud is any crime in which someone tries defrauding the government. Health care providers and contractors are the ones who commit this crime the most often, and they use different methods to do so. Health care providers commit government fraud by lying on insurance forms. Contractors commit government fraud by billing government agencies for services they never provided. The federal government aggressively pursues this crime and often seeks the highest possible penalties.
Tax evasion is a crime in which someone lies about their assets or income to avoid paying taxes. For example, a contractor accepts cash payments and fails to report all the profit she earned. Another example is someone editing financial reports to conceal income or other transactions from the IRS. Companies can also commit tax evasion and face punishments for doing so. If you are facing tax evasion charges, you can face five years in prison and fines of up to $100,000.
Securities violations consist of deception used to compel investors to purchase a stock in which they would otherwise not be interested. For example, several people in a company buy a large number of shares to inflate the stock price. Investors will see the jump in price and believe the stock is on an upward trend.
Once the investors purchase stock in the company, the people behind the crime sell their stocks and collect unfair returns, leaving the investors with significant losses. Another example of this crime involves company leaders lying on financial reports to make the company look more profitable than it is. Federal courts can impose steep fines and up to five years in prison for each offense.
Laws related to insider trading exist to promote a fair stock market and to give investors confidence in the information corporations provide to the public. Insider trading happens when someone uses confidential information to sell or buy stocks from a public company. For example, imagine an employee works for a national company. From the surface, the company appears to be making substantial profits and shows no sign of slowing down.
The employee learns through his position that the company is getting ready to lose a large client, which will cause the stock prices to drop to the bottom of the charts. The employee uses that information and sells all his stocks before the failed deal becomes public knowledge. This employee has committed insider trading and could get five years in prison.
Bribery occurs when someone gives money or something else of value to a person of influence in exchange for favors and special requests. An example of this crime is a business professional paying a politician to pass laws favorable to that business. For another example, a defendant offers a large sum of money to the judge in exchange for a lenient sentence. Both the person offering the money and the person accepting it are considered guilty of bribery. A conviction can result in years behind bars.
Kickbacks are a type of bribery in which the person of influence receives ongoing payments in exchange for favors or special requests. One example of a kickback is a professional who bribes a local mayor to lower the sales tax on a business transaction. Since the professional gets an ongoing benefit, he pays ongoing fees to the mayor that are less than what he would have paid in taxes. The punishment you could face depends on the length of the illegal agreement and the number of people impacted by the corruption.
Counterfeiting is the use of fake items or documents to fool others into thinking the counterfeited item is authentic. Fake identification cards, fake membership cards and fake certificates are examples of counterfeiting. Your punishment varies based on the type of counterfeiting in which you are accused of engaging. The U.S. Secret Service investigates all cases of counterfeiting that involve U.S. currency, and those convicted of counterfeiting money can face up to 15 years in federal prison for each charge.
When you are accused of embezzlement, you are accused of misusing funds that a person or company trusted you to manage. If you work for a company as an accountant, listing false transactions and keeping the money for yourself is one example of embezzlement. Also, deleting transactions and marking the sale as theft so that you can keep the money is another example. An escrow attorney who keeps the money instead of transferring it is guilty of this crime. The punishment imposed by the court depends on the extent of the crime, and you can face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Economic espionage occurs when a foreign entity uses clandestine means to obtain sensitive financial information or to influence financial decisions without detection. One example is a foreign government sending an agent to work for a U.S. company to steal trade secrets. Someone convicted of this crime can go to prison for up to 15 years.
Find a Dallas/Fort Worth White-Collar Criminal Defense Lawyer
A conviction for a white-collar crime under Federal law may ruin a business professional’s reputation and result in a substantial prison sentence. Your reputation and freedom are on the line, you need an aggressive Fort Worth criminal defense lawyer fighting on your side.
Cody Cofer, Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer
Our firm has handled a variety of white-collar crime cases in state and federal court. Cody Cofer is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is a former Assistant Federal Public Defender for the Northern District of Texas. He has 10 years of trial and appellate experience. He has a Doctor of Jurisprudence and a Master in Business Administration degree. Schedule a consultation, today, to review the investigation or criminal charges against you.