Extorting or attempting to money or property from another through dishonest or deceptive means is fraud under Florida law. The majority of white-collar crimes involve some type of fraud and can result in serious penalties. Since fraud is an umbrella term it can involve various crimes of all offense levels. It can range from identity theft to elaborate schemes to defraud government agencies or businesses.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a fraudulent offense, we implore you to seek legal representation. Fraudulent related crimes can lead to harsh penalties including steep fines and even time in prison. In addition, you will have to deal with the collateral consequences of a having a criminal record. You could have issues pursuing employment, loans, housing or educational opportunities. Don’t put yourself in that situation and fight your charges with experienced legal counsel.

Port St. Lucie Attorneys for Fraud in Florida

A fraud related crime can be difficult to defend if you don’t have extensive experience defending people accused with financial offenses. If you have been arrested for fraud, it’s important you hire an attorney who thoroughly understands finance, business and how it’s related to the law. Find that attorneys with Meltzer & Bell, we have nearly 20 years of collective practice representing people accused of white-collar crimes.

Meltzer & Bell has handled all types of fraud crimes in the St. Lucie County and Martin County area. We don’t only understand the law but the complicated logistics of in-depth fraud schemes. With our skills and resources, we can assess your case to uncover all your legal options. Call Meltzer & Bell to schedule your first consultation free of charge.

Meltzer & Bell accepts clients throughout Port St. Lucie and surrounding areas including Saint Lucie, Fort Pierce, Stuart, Jensen Beach and Palm City.

Overview of Fraud Crimes in FL

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What Does Florida Constitute as Fraud?

The term fraud is actually a blanket definition for a multitude of crimes. The prosecution can define a crime as a fraudulent act if it includes an act of deceit to misrepresent or withhold a material fact from another person for some sort of personal benefit. The action can range from stealing a credit card number belonging to another person to an embezzling scheme.

The following are some different types of fraud crimes in the state of Florida:

  • Obtaining property from worthless checks;
  • Scheme to defraud;
  • Defrauding an innkeeper;
  • Forgery;
  • Fraudulent use of personal identification;
  • Exploitation of a disabled adult or elderly person;
  • Uttering forged instruments;
  • Issuing worthless checks;
  • Fraudulent use of credit cards;
  • Bribery; or
  • Extortion

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What Are Some Examples of Fraud Under Florida Law?

A fraudulent crime includes the use of deceit or trickery to obtain something they are not entitled to. These types of fraudulent crimes can be found under the Florida Statutes Section 817. You can visit the statute to overlook the different variation of fraud a person can be charged with in Florida. All fraud related crimes carry harsh penalties including steep fines and even time spent in prison. The following are some examples of common fraud crimes that people are convicted of in Florida.

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Fraudulent Use of Another’s Personal Identification in Florida

Using another person’s identification without their conscious consent is a crime. Under Florida Statute Section 817.568(1)(f) defines personal identification as any type of name or number that is used to identify a certain person. This crime can be committed in various ways including being obtained through an illegal purchase either in person or online, stolen from a friend or family member, or found through a larger scheme to defraud.

Some examples of personal identifying information can include:

  • Name;
  • Telephone number;
  • Bank account number;
  • Medical records;
  • Address;
  • Person identification number IPIN); or
  • Social security number

The penalties for fraudulent use of another person’s identification information depends on how many victims are involved in your case. It’s important to remember you can be charged with fraudulent use of personal identification even If you didn’t obtain physical goods as a result.

Possessing four or less individuals identifying information is a first-degree misdemeanor. The maximum penalties for a first-degree misdemeanor includes:

  • Up to 12 months in jail; and
  • A fine of up to $1,000

Having five or more individuals identifying information will result in a third-degree felony. If convicted of a third-degree felony, then you may be sentenced to:

  • Up to 5 years in prison; and
  • A fine of up to $5,000

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Credit Card Fraud in Florida

Possessing and using a credit card that’s been obtained illegally is a crime in the state of Florida. You can find the elements for credit card fraud under Florida Statutes Section 817.61, which states a person is guilty of fraudulent use of credit cards if:

  • They use a credit card and had intent to defraud; and
  • The credit card was obtained by the offender through:
    • Forgery;
    • Theft;
    • Signing in another person’s name;
    • Presented as if the actual cardholder gave consent for them to use it; or
    • Purchased by a person who is not the cardholder; and
  • They were able to obtain something of value from the person or business they were attempting to defraud

The consequences for committing credit card fraud depends on how many times the card was sued to purchase goods and the value of the goods within a 6-month period. Using an illegal credit card two times or less for items that value at less than $100 is a first-degree misdemeanor. The maximum penalties for a first-degree misdemeanor are:

  • Up to 12 months in county jail; and
  • A possible fine of up to $1,000.

If the card was used more than twice within 6 months and the items were valued at over $100, then the crime will be enhanced to a first-degree felony. The penalties for a first-degree felony include the following:

  • Up to five years in prison; and
  • A possible fine of up to $5,000.

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Schemes to Defraud A Person or Business in Florida

Schemes to defraud crimes are addressed in the Florida Communications Fraud Act. The purpose the legislation is to decrease the amount of fraud crimes that occur through communication technology. For a person to be charged they must engage in systematic ongoing fraudulent activity for the crime to be considered a scheme to defraud.

The Florida Statutes Section 817.034 lists the following elements that the prosecution is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to convict a person for being involved in a scheme to defraud a person or business.

  • Through a continuous and ongoing series of acts;
  • The alleged offender intended to defraud another person;
  • Through the use of false or fraudulent promises, representations, or by knowingly misrepresenting some sort of future act; and
  • Obtains money, goods, or something of value as a result.

The penalties for schemes to defraud rely on the aggregate value of what was obtained. The value of the property or goods obtained is determined by the current market price at the time of the trial. If that price can’t be calculated, then the courts will assign a value.

If the value of stolen property from a scheme to defraud is less than $20,000, then the crime will be charged as a third-degree felony. The maximum penalties for a third-degree felony include up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

When the goods or property is valued at $20,000 or more, but less than $50,000, then the offense will be enhanced to a second-degree felony. The penalties for a second-degree felony include up to 30 years in prison, and a fine of up to $10,000.

If the property is valued at $50,000 or more, it’s a first-degree felony. The maximum penalties for a first-degree felony include:

  • Up to 30 years in prison; and
  • A fine of up to $10,000

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Additional Resources

Florida Fraud Laws – Visit the official website for Florida laws and legislation. Find more information about fraud offenses, their possible penalties, and admissible defenses that can be used in court.

Common Fraud Schemes – Visit the official website for the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), and gain access to the bureau’s resources for common fraud schemes they frequently encounter. Use their filter to see the differences between business fraud, credit card fraud, identity theft, Ponzi schemes, telemarketing fraud, pyramid schemes and more.

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Fraud Defense Lawyer in Martin County, FL

If you or someone you know has been charged with fraud, then it’s imperative you secure legal representation as soon as possible. Let the attorneys at Meltzer & Bell be your guide and defend you from your fraud related crimes. We have over 20 years of collective experience we can use for your case.

Don’t wait another moment to protect your rights and future. Call us now at (772) 248-1215 and we will set up your first consultation free. Meltzer & Bell accepts clients throughout the greater St. Lucie County and Martin County and Treasure Coast area.

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