Fraud is a broad term that encompasses a variety of criminal activities, typically involving statements or acts knowingly deceiving another party for personal gain. Though different fraud crimes have distinct elements and contexts, all types of fraud are considered serious offenses under both Colorado and federal law. In addition, if the US government is harmed or otherwise involved in a fraud case, the fraud crime may be prosecuted as a federal felony.
Some of the most common types of fraud crimes include:
Bribery. Bribery is a crime under state and federal law that involves giving, receiving, offering, or soliciting something of value in order to persuade an official to act in a certain way. Bribery crimes are often used to influence a business or political decision for personal gain. These types of crime may defraud an organization, political entity, or other victim of the right to honest and due services from those under the victim’s employment.
Illegal gratuity. This type of fraud crime involves offering or promising something of value in order to influence the actions of an official in the discharge of legal or public responsibilities. Illegal gratuities are generally offered as a reward for an act that an official has already performed, or for an act that the official promised to perform in the future.
Credit card fraud. If you use a credit or debit card without the owner’s permission, you can be charged with credit card fraud. You could also be charged with credit card fraud if you use a card that you know is expired or cancelled. More elaborate types of credit card fraud may include skimming or triangulation.
Check fraud. You can be charged with check fraud if you pay with a check tied to a bank account with insufficient or no funds. Check fraud could also include counterfeiting, forging, or fraudulently altering checks.
Identity theft. You could be charged with identity theft if you use another person’s personal or financial information without their permission in order to gain something of value. For instance, using someone’s information to apply for credit could be charged as an identity theft crime.
Mail fraud and wire fraud. The federal government criminalizes the use of telephone, telegraph, or the US postal service to engage in fraudulent activity. Common examples of mail and wire fraud include using the postal system to mail fraudulent reimbursement claims or bid announcements.
Embezzlement. Embezzlement involves the theft or larceny of money or property by a person who is in a position of trust over those assets. You can be charged with embezzlement for stealing or misappropriating assets or property belonging to your employer, or placed in a trust you are in charge of managing.
Forgery. You can be charged with fraud for falsifying or altering a variety of documents, such as money, lottery tickets, wills, or stamps. Colorado forgery laws make it illegal to create or alter certain documents in order to deceive or trick others.
Money laundering. Money laundering involves the movement of illegal money and other assets to legitimate channels with the intention of disguising the money’s illegal source and deceiving tax officers.
Securities fraud. You can be charged with securities fraud for making a false statement about a business or the value of its stock if others make important financial decisions based on your statement. Common examples of securities fraud include insider trading and “pump and dump schemes.”
These are only a handful of the many different types of criminal activities that could constitute fraud. In many cases, fraud crimes are punished with both criminal and civil penalties. Criminal penalties may include jail or prison time, heavy fines, and a lifelong criminal record. Civil penalties may include paying restitution to the victims of the fraud crime.
If you have been charged with any type of fraud crime in Colorado, or believe that you may be the target of an investigation, you should consult with a Denver white collar crime defense attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can advise you on how to behave in order to avoid incriminating yourself, and help you build a powerful fraud defense.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.