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Any attempt to extort or steal money, property, or services from another person through the means of deception or deceit is known as fraud. The majority of white-collar crimes are related to a scheme to defraud such as healthcare fraud, insurance fraud, and/or tax fraud. Although fraud is a non-violent crime, the penalties upon conviction are incredibly harsh. If you’re convicted, you could be sentenced to time in prison and required to pay expensive fines.

In most fraud cases, the crime involves a person or multiple people breaching the trust of another for a monetary gain. Although the circumstances of the offense can vary, all fraud crimes share the same element of using deception and trickery to obtain money, property, services, credit, benefits, or goods. If you or someone you know has been arrested for a fraud-related crime, then it’s within your best interest to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Fraud Defense Lawyer, Gainesville | Alachua County, Florida

You may be under the impression that white collar crimes have minor consequences. However, this couldn’t be further than the truth. If you’re convicted of an economic offense like fraud, you could be sentenced to years in prison and pay thousand-dollar fines. That is why we highly encourage you to call an experienced criminal defense attorney if you’ve been accused of a financial crime including any type of fraud.

The lawyers at Galigani Law Firm have decades of combined experience we can utilize for your case. Call Galigani Law Firm today to set up your first consultation free. Galigani Law Firm accepts clients throughout the greater Gainesville and Alachua County area including High Springs, Waldo, Archer, Hawthorne, Alachua, and Micanopy.

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Can You Go to Jail for Fraud in Florida?

The short answer is yes. An individual charged and convicted of fraud has a high likelihood of going to jail and/or prison. That’s because any fraudulent act where deceit is used to misrepresent facts or withhold material fact is a crime under Florida law. Fraud can range from using a stranger’s credit card without permission to forging a check to executing a complicated insurance fraud scheme. 

The following are some examples of fraud crimes in the state of Florida.

  • Extortion
  • Scheme to defraud
  • Bribery
  • Forgery
  • Fraudulent use of another’s credit card
  • Uttering a forged instrument
  • Defrauding an innkeeper
  • Fraudulent use of another’s identifying information
  • Exploitation of an elderly or disabled person 

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What is the Most Common Type of Fraud in Florida?

“Fraud” is an umbrella term for a multitude of offenses involving deceit or trickery. Fraudulent offenses are defined under Florida Statute Section 817, and if you look at the statute, you’ll see the various types of fraud crimes in Florida. Listed below is some information about the most common types of fraud committed in the state of Florida.

Scheme to Defraud Florida

Any organized mission to commit fraud against another person or entity is known as scheme to defraud in Florida. Under Florida law, any person who engages in ongoing, systematic fraudulent activity will be charged with scheme to defraud. The offense was originally outlined in the Florida Communications Fraud Act, which aims to decrease the amount of fraud schemes that occur over communications technology including the internet.  

The prosecution must prove the following elements to convict a person for committing a scheme to defraud.

  • The defendant intended to defraud another person
  • The fraudulent activity was conducted via a series of continuous and ongoing actions
  • The defendant attempted to defraud another person or entity under false/fraudulent promises, representations, or by misrepresenting a future act
  • Obtained money, goods, property, credit, benefits, or something of value as a result

The consequences for committing a scheme to defraud will depend on the aggregate value of the goods, money, services, or property that was obtained. The court will determine the value of what was defrauded by its current market price. If the court is unable to find a current fair market price value, then the court will assign a value instead.

Listed below are the penalties for committing a scheme to defraud in Florida.

  • Less than $20,000 – Third Degree Felony
    • Up to 5 years in prison
    • A fine of up to $5,000
  • More than $20,000, but less than $50,000 – Second-Degree Felony
    • Up to 15 years in prison
    • A fine of up to $10,000
  • More than $20,000 – First-Degree Felony  
    • Up to 30 years in prison
    • A fine of up to $10,000

Credit Card Fraud Punishment Florida

Use of an unlawfully obtained credit card is a crime in Florida known as fraudulent use of a credit card. The offense is outlined under Florida Statutes Section 817.61, and the elements the prosecution must prove to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt to convict a person for fraudulently using another’s credit or debit card are listed below. 

  • Used a credit or debit card with the intent to defraud another person or entity
  • The credit or debit card was taken via:
    • Forgery
    • Theft
    • Signing another’s name
    • Purchased the credit card by someone who is not the card holder
    • Presented the card as if the card holder had given them consent
  • The defendant was able to obtain something of value from the person or entity they were attempting to defraud with the credit or debit card

The consequence for credit card fraud depends on the number of times the card was fraudulently used and the value of what was purchased in a six-month period. Using a fraudulent card two times or less and the value of the good obtained was less than $100, then it will result in a first-degree misdemeanor.

The maximum penalty for a first-degree misdemeanor in Florida includes:

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

Using a fraudulent credit card more than twice in a six-month span where the items obtained were valued at $100 or more is a third-degree felony. The penalties for a third-degree felony in Florida include: 

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

Identity Theft in Florida

It’s illegal in Florida to utilize another person’s personal identification information without their consent. This information can be illegally obtained in various ways including an illegal purchase, stolen from a friend/acquaintance/family member, or it was identified in a larger complicated fraudulent scheme. Under Florida Statutes Section 817.568(1)(f), personal identification information is any type of name or number used to identify a person.

The following are some examples of personal identifying information defined under Florida law.

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Bank account number
  • Routing number
  • Social security number
  • Driver’s license number
  • Personal identification number (PIN)
  • Medical records

The penalty for identity theft in Florida will depend on how many victims were involved in the scheme to defraud. The defendant does not have to use the identifying information to obtain goods or services to be charged with a crime. Possession of another’s personal identifying information is enough to satisfy the statute.

Possessing personal identifying information of four or less people is a first-degree misdemeanor. The maximum penalty for a first-degree misdemeanor includes: 

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

The charge will be enhanced to a third-degree felony if the court finds the defendant possessed personal identifying information of five or more people. The maximum penalty a person may face for a third-degree felony includes: 

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

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Additional Resources

Florida Fraud Statute  – Visit the official website for Online Sunshine, a collection of Florida’s current statutes including the laws for fraud. Find more information about fraud, the various types of fraud crimes listed under Florida law, the penalty enhancements, and more. 

Common Fraud Schemes – Visit the official website for the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) to learn more about common fraudulent schemes. Access the site to look at the elements for business fraud, identity theft, credit card fraud, telemarketing fraud, pyramid schemes, Ponzi scheme, and more.

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Alachua County Lawyers for Fraud | Florida White Collar Crime

If you or someone you know has been charged with a type of fraud in Florida, it’s crucial you find experienced legal representation. The attorneys at Galigani Law Firm have spent decades defending Floridians from fraud accusations. They can assess your charges, compile evidence, call upon experts, file motions, and do whatever needed to obtain the best possible outcome for your case. Learn your legal options today with Galigani Law Firm.

Schedule your first free consultation with the Alachua County fraud defense lawyers at Galigani Law Firm by calling our offices at (352) 375-0812.  

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