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Did I Commit Fraud? – A Guide to Fraud, Counterfeit, and Forgery

On Behalf of | Apr 14, 2022 | Criminal Defense

The United States federal government and the state of Maryland take fraud and fraud-related charges very seriously. Though what constitutes fraud is clear in the law, you should still know what might constitute it and the potential penalties. There are numerous ways a person could commit fraud, ranging from passing ‘bad checks’ to obtaining state health insurance through false representation. Read on to learn more about:

  • Common types of fraud and their penalties;
  • Money Counterfeit and Forgery: how it relates to fraud; and
  • Your legal options when facing fraud charges.

Typical Fraud Cases Across the Board

Generally speaking, the law considers fraud a white-collaer crime—or crime involving finance, business, or various government agencies. However, it is common to see those in positions of monetary power arrested for and charged with types of fraud related to security or Ponzi schemes. However, fraud happens across the board, and statistics suggest both executive and non-executive personnel at companies are capable of fraud.

Refer to the table below for a series of common cases of fraud and their penalties:

Type of Fraud Definition Penalties
Passing a “Bad Check” A check delivered to a person that cannot be delivered because it’s linked to a nonexistent account or the account has insufficient funds. Penalties vary based on the amount of the check:

·         $1,500 – $25,000: felony crime, up to 5 years in prison or up to $10,000 in fines.

·         $25,000 – $100,000: up to 10 years or up to $15,000 in fines.

·         $100,000 or over: up to 20 years and $25,000 in fines.

Credit Card Fraud The unauthorized use of a credit or debit card—often when someone steals a card or its information. There are many different seconds of the law accounting for the multiple credit card fraud circumstances. For making a false statement about a person’s identity to procure a credit card OR credit card theft:

·         Misdemeanor crime, up to 18 months in prison or up to $500 in fines

Credit Card Counterfeit:

·         Felony crime, up to 15 years in prison or fine up to $1,000

Medicaid Fraud Defrauding or attempting to defraud a state healthcare plan by means of providing false representation of information (income, property) to collect reimbursement for care. Depending on the circumstances, Medicaid Fraud is either a misdemeanor or felony crime carrying 3 years of imprisonment up to life.  Likewise, fines up to a minimum of $50,000 are possible for the most minor health care fraud offense.
Identity Fraud When someone uses another person’s identifying information to commit fraud (credit card, health care, etc.). Felony Fraud from $1,500 – $25,000:

·         Up to 5 years in prison, up to $10,000 in fines.

From $25,000 – $100,000:

·         Up to 10 years in prison, up to $15,000 in fines

Counterfeit and Forgery

The separate crimes of counterfeit and forgery have their own ties to fraud.

Counterfeit involves the careful imitation of obligations, securities (cash, checks, notes, bonds), or identification. You might commonly hear the term counterfeit used with regard to money. There is a spectrum of counterfeit charges a person may face, but counterfeit might generally be associated with fraud or intent to fraud.

Counterfeiting currency is much easier nowadays with public access to advanced printing materials. However, the distribution of counterfeit cash with the intent to defraud a person is highly illegal. The “intent to defraud” element of the law protects those who may receive counterfeit money, and in turn, try and use it; the distributor of the cash would be legally at fault, not the person who unknowingly took the cash.

Similarly, forgery is an intent to defraud through creating a document or providing a false signature or approval. For example, someone might forge a medical document to obtain a prescription they otherwise have not been approved to use. Someone also might forge a signature on a check or contract or promise to defraud a person or agency—the above-mentioned Medicaid Fraud is an instance where someone might use forged documents to receive benefits or subsidies.

Counterfeit can occur in multiple situations, as can forgery. Therefore, penalties tend to be case-specific. However, document forgery carries a potential maximum of ten years in prison; even if you think your case of forgery or counterfeit has a limited output, there’s still a chance you could face prosecution.

Defending Fraud: Knowing Your Options

If you find any type of charge related to fraud brought against you, call an attorney. Cases of fraud, forgery, or counterfeit usually involve some form of hard evidence; an eventual prosecution has to prove your intent through said evidence, so if there are any forged documents or counterfeit currency, they’ll find and use it.

A skilled and aggressive criminal defense attorney will mount a steadfast defense tailored to your case. If there’s evidence to review, your attorney will delicately review and analyze it.

In addition, they will also review how both law enforcement and the prosecutors handled and obtained that evidence and whether they were operating under the procedure. If not, there is a case your attorney can move to exclude that evidence from your trial.

Fraud, forgery, and counterfeit charges can irreparably damage your future. The words themselves are red flags to employers—especially those in business and finance. Therefore, it is imperative for your future and reputation you fight as hard as you can.

If you are charged with fraud or fraud-related crime, contact our offices for a free initial consultation. Our criminal defense team is highly experienced in a wide variety of fields and revered for its strong and effective representation of Maryland’s citizens. Do not wait—contact us today!