DC Federal Fraud Lawyer
Fraud covers a wide range of activity. If can be something relatively simple like minor credit card fraud or issuing a bad check to something more sophisticated like securities, wire, or mail fraud.
In a fraud case, the government has to prove that a person misrepresented or lied about something with the intent to deceive, and that the misrepresentation or lie caused financial or legal injury to someone. In many situations, the big question the government must answer before deciding to prosecute a fraud case is whether it can prove that the accused had the criminal intent necessary to satisfy the required elements for fraud. Call today to schedule a consultation with a DC federal fraud lawyer.
Health Care Fraud
The federal government expends an enormous amount of resources to investigate health care fraud cases. As a health care provider, the potential consequences of a mere health care fraud investigation are extremely serious and long lasting. As with other white collar offenses, those who are convicted have a strong likelihood to face prison time. Revocation or suspension of a medical license and/or being barred from future government reimbursement programs including Medicaid or Medicare can end a medical career.
Oftentimes, the government pursues health care fraud under two basic theories. The first theory involves health care providers who are accused of “upcoding” or using a different billing code for a procedure that pays more than the code justifies. The other theory involves providers who are accused of billing for procedures that were not performed at all or procedures for alleged fictitious patients.
Bankruptcy allows for destitute businesses or people to wipe out debt and make a fresh start. The prospect for abusing bankruptcy proceedings can be tempting and, indeed, many individuals, small business owners, and CEOs each year are accused of bankruptcy fraud. The Department of Justice’s US Trustees Program monitors bankruptcy proceedings and refers suspected cases of fraud to the FBI and the US Attorney’s office.
In bankruptcy fraud cases most often the accused person or business is alleged to have filed for bankruptcy and lied, produced false documents, or otherwise tried to hide financial assets with the objective of preserving such assets from the bankruptcy process. However, as with all criminal investigations, anyone investigated, accused, and charged with bankruptcy fraud must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Mortgage fraud is a new focus of federal agencies, one that has attracted a lot of attention since the housing market crash of 2008 and the resulting economic crisis thereafter. Since the crash, the number of loan organizations has substantially decreased as a result of better underwriting standards while the number of delinquencies, underwater mortgages and foreclosures has skyrocketed. Distressed loan organizations are sometimes accused of targeting homeowners who are desperately trying to save their home. This type of fraud involves loan refinancing and/or modification.
The FBI’s Financial Institution Fraud Unit (FIFU) investigates several different types of mortgage fraud including:
- Alleged illegal loan modification schemes
- Alleged illegal equity skimming
- Alleged illegal foreclosure rescue schemes
- Alleged illegal “silent” second mortgages
- Alleged illegal property flipping
Sentencing in Fraud Cases
In recent years, following the uproar that occurred after huge white collar scandals like WorldCom and Enron, Congress adjusted the sentencing guidelines to increase the recommended guideline ranges for people convicted of white collar offenses including fraud offenses. The Voluntary Sentencing Guidelines are only advisory but it helps overcome tough hurdles if the guideline range is favorable.
There are a few key factors that drive the potential sentence in a fraud case. One key factor is known as the “loss amount,” which is defined in Section 2B1.1 of the guidelines. The guidelines indicate that the loss amount is the reasonably foreseeable financial loss, not the actual money that people lost or the money made by those convicted. This definition can result in loss amounts that are much greater than the actual amount of money that was involved in the offense.
There are several other characteristics of the offense that the guidelines contemplate can increase the offense Level. These characteristics include but are not limited to, the number of victims involved, whether sophisticated means were used, and if the person convicted was in a position of trust.
Regardless of the alleged crime, an experienced and aggressive criminal defense lawyer is essential if you find yourself targeted by the federal government. Price Benowitz represents clients facing fraud and a variety of other white collar criminal charges, including Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and RICO matters. For more information on the best approach to take in your case, schedule an office consultation with an attorney who has a strong track record defending against allegations of fraud.