Category Archives: Identity Theft

“Schemes to Defraud” Covered in the Florida Communications Fraud Act

“Schemes to Defraud” Covered in the Florida Communications Fraud Act

Technology is changing the way we live. Years ago, phones were used to make calls. Now, cell phones are an integral part of our lives. From emails, text messages, to the rise of many messaging applications, technology has made communication much easier and faster. It has also created easy ways for high-tech criminals to use schemes to defraud and other illegal activities.

Florida recognizes this and that many cybercrooks use technology to conceal their identities and to easily gain the confidence of their target victims. As such, Florida’s statutes on frauds now include criminal acts performed using different communication channels.

According to Florida’s State Law, a Scheme to Defraud refers to a systematic and well-planned activity and communication to defraud one or more persons. It includes the intent to wrongfully take or attempt to take the property of another under fraudulent or false pretenses and representations. This can be done through any technological means and channels, which can include the internet, mail, wire, telephone, and other channels of communication.

Classification and Penalties for Schemes to Defraud as Felony

Scheme to defraud is considered to fall under organized fraud and is taken very seriously under Florida Law. Any person proven guilty to have engaged in a scheme to defraud and have taken the property of others through it may be penalized differently, based on the value of the property obtained.

Below are the sentences for those guilty of perpetuating Schemes to Defraud in Florida:

  • If the property obtained has a total value of not more than $20,000, the crime is considered as a third-degree felony. This crime is punishable by imprisonment not exceeding five years, and a fine of $5,000.
  • If the property obtained is more than $20,000 but less than $50,000, it is considered as a second-degree felony. This conviction is punishable by imprisonment not exceeding fifteen years, and a fine of $10,000.
  • If the property obtained is more than $50,000, the crime committed is considered as a first-degree felony. This crime is punishable by imprisonment not exceeding thirty years, and a fine of $10,000.

Even the defendant took no property was taken by the defendant during the communication, but there was intent to take such property, he can still face penalties if found guilty. The following are the penalties, per Florida Statutes:

  • For a scheme to defraud in which the property under investigation has a total value of $300 or more, the charge is a third-degree felony. This crime is punishable by imprisonment which shall not exceed five years, and a fine of $5,000 if found guilty.
  • For a scheme to defraud in which the property in question has a total value of not more than $300, the guilty violator will be charged with a misdemeanor in the first degree. If found guilty, he will be sentenced to an imprisonment not exceeding one year, and a fine of $ 1000.

Let a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Florida Help You

Whether you have been wrongfully accused or you are a victim of any schemes to defraud in Florida, seek legal help immediately! A criminal lawyer experienced and knowledgeable in Florida Statutes on Fraud can provide the legal assistance you need and help you fight the charges today. Call the Law Offices of Michael A. Gottlieb, P.A. right away at 954-462-1005 and let our legal team take over your case.

The 411 on Fraud

The 411 on Fraud

There are tons of instances in your everyday lives wherein you are required to give small pieces of information about yourself. In writing a check to pay for your groceries, in applying for a membership in the nearby gym, in changing your phone plans, or even in using your credit card to pay for a flight online, you willingly give out important information about yourself.

In these kinds of transaction, you will always be required to give your full name, and sometimes, your address, phone numbers, bank account, and even your social security number (SSN). However, sometimes, the information that you share, even as a requirement for a transaction, can be used without your knowledge.

Identity theft is the illegal use of another person’s private information. This is usually done for financial gain. Any identity thief can easily use all your information to do illegal acts such as fraud or theft.

How Identity Theft Happens

Identity thieves are experts in the field and they are highly skilled in using different ways to gain access to your personal information. Here are some ways that these thieves get your personal information:

  • Stealing it from businesses or other establishments
  • Bribing employees to give out the information of their customers
  • Hacking a company’s records
  • Stealing any of your belongings which contain credit cards and other important things
  • Stealing information directly from you through email or by phone call
  • Through a skimming practice wherein a device is attached to an ATM machine to get your credit card or debit card’s information when you swipe your card
  • Stealing your mail or rummaging through your trash to find bills or receipts that were thrown away

Once a thief has gained access to your personal information, the sky is the limit in what they can do with it. They can use your credit card to pay for any of their transactions and even take out loans under your name.

Identity theft is a very serious crime. If you unfortunately become a victim, you can spend an awful lot of time and money cleaning after the thief who stole your identity. You can lose a lot of opportunities such as loans and even jobs. Arrests for crimes you never committed are possible.

How to Prevent Identity Theft

Unfortunately, you cannot fully prevent yourself from being a victim of an identity theft. However, taking good care in sharing any of your valuable information can help minimize the risk.

  • Monitor all your incoming mail.

Identity thieves can change your billing address and send your bills to the new one. If you are missing some mail, this could mean that your personal information has been stolen.

  • Always check your bank accounts.

See if you have withdrawals or payments made using your account that you do not remember doing.

  • Be vigilant of calls from banks, companies or debt collectors.

Take note of all the important transactions that you do, especially if they involve large amounts of money.

  • Put passwords on anything that has of your personal information.

Secure your credit and debit cards and bank accounts. Use passwords that are not related to your name, birthday, or anything that can easily be guessed.

  • Keep important information private, even inside your house.

Keep your personal belongings in a hidden space especially if you have roommates living with you or you have workers coming in and out of your house.

  • Never give any of your personal information online, on the phone, or through the mail.

Identity thieves are experts in pretending that they are representatives of different companies.

  • Put your SSN card in a secure place.

Do not carry it around with you. It can easily get stolen along with your wallet. Additionally, if you find out that any of your cards has been missing, report it to the proper authorities immediately.

Contact an Attorney for Legal Advice

When you fall as a victim to fraud, it is important to know exactly what to do next to prevent the circumstance from getting worse. Contact a trusted legal advisor to help you deal with this matter as soon as possible. Michael Gottlieb can be your Broward fraud attorney.