San Diego County Fraud Defense Attorney
I am fraud lawyer Peter M. Liss and if you have been charged with this serious crime or any other white collar offenses, I can help you fight the charges. I have been practicing law for over 35 years, have tried over 100 jury trials and have successfully defended many people in similar situations. My Vista criminal law office is conveniently located just off the 78 highway across from the North County courthouse and jail, and my San Diego office is located off the I-5 freeway in Carmel Valley. I accept all major credit cards. Please call any time, day or night, to schedule a free initial consultation where we can discuss your case.
What is Fraud?
Fraud is a type of theft that involves the use of false claims or deception. The most common types of fraud crimes in California are those that involve insurance, welfare, mortgages, charities, worker’s compensation and embezzlement. Most of these cases are considered white collar crimes because no one is put in danger of physical harm during the process, but just because these are not violent crimes does not mean they are not serious. Anyone facing such accusations should contact a Vista fraud defense attorney as soon as possible.
There are many different kinds of fraud charges in California and they all depend on what the suspect is said to have lied about. A few of the most common forms are below:
Financial Fraud Crimes
The most well known type of fraud is simply lying to someone else in order to swindle them out of money. This commonly involves some form of mail fraud, wire fraud, mortgage fraud or securities fraud. Credit card fraud and check fraud are similar crimes, which is often filed along with charges related to identity theft.
Tax fraud can also result in criminal charges, but this rarely happens except in the most egregious cases. Instead, these situations are generally civil matters that may result in massive fines, but no potential criminal penalties.
Welfare Fraud Charges
Welfare fraud occurs when someone attempts to obtain government benefits they would otherwise not be entitled to. Programs that are most commonly defrauded include:
- Unemployment Insurance
- Social Security
- TANF (Usually called “Welfare”)
- SNAP (aka “Food Stamps”)
- SSI and SSD (Government-issued Disability Insurance programs)
- Medi-Cal (California’s Medicaid program)
While there are many ways people commit fraud against these programs, some of the most common methods include lying on applications, collecting someone else’s benefits, applying for benefits using multiple names, illegally giving benefits to other people, or someone applying for benefits as a California resident when they actually live out of the state or even the country.
Insurance Fraud Cases
There are many types of fraud perpetrated against insurance companies, but some of the methods that most commonly result in criminal charges include:
- Filing false claims
- Falsely inflating loses when filing a legitimate claim
- Obtaining services with someone else’s name
- Faking an injury to get medical care or money from workers comp insurance
- Committing property damage (often arson) to get collect compensation for damages
- Lying that something has been stolen to get a replacement or be paid for reimbursement
These types of cases are investigated thoroughly by both the insurance company and the police, so it is particularly important that anyone accused of this type of theft call a criminal defense attorney immediately in order to help protect themselves.
Healthcare Fraud Charges
Healthcare fraud is another common form, which can sometimes overlap with insurance fraud. This can take place in the form of doctors lying about services in order to get reimbursed by insurance companies or in the form of someone using someone else’s name or even a fake ID in order to get medical care, a type of identity theft. Similarly, some people commit drug crimes by scamming doctors or pharmacists in order to get access to prescriptions they would not otherwise be able to obtain, which is also a drug crime.
Auto Registration or Insurance Fraud
It’s common for drivers to use fraudulent vehicle registrations or to lie about their state of residency to avoid paying registration fees in California. Some people will even go so far as to purposefully get in car accidents in order to collect money from insurance companies, a subset of the more broad occurrence of insurance fraud.
Charity and Disability Fraud
An increasingly common form of fraud is that involving fundraisers, whether for the individual’s own fraudulent needs or to raise money for a charitable group that may or may not exist. Similarly, some people lie about their disabilities in order to bring their pets with them where they would not otherwise be welcome or in order to park in handicapped spaces illegally.
Fraud Charges in California
The specific charges you will face depend on whether you are being charged in a state or federal court and what, exactly, you have been accused of doing. Mail fraud, wire fraud, securities fraud, healthcare fraud, welfare fraud, mortgage and real estate fraud are all specific fraud-charges under the law. If there is not an actual law against the type of scheme you have been accused of performing though, you will likely instead be charged with using a fake ID, forgery, theft, embezzlement or other crime that covers the specific activities you did.
Grand Theft Charges in Fraud Cases
If you have been accused of taking more than over $950 worth of money or property, you will likely face grand theft charges, which can be charged as a felony, punishable by up to three yeas in prison. This is one of the most common charges filed in fraud cases.
Additional Charges That May be Filed
Depending on the specifics of your case, you may also be charged with related crimes such as money laundering or conspiracy to commit fraud. If you didn’t technically commit the fraudulent activity yourself, but helped someone plan or execute a fraud, you could also be charged with aiding and abetting.
In some cases, you may face an individual charge for each time you broke the law. In these cases, it may be advisable to work with your fraud crimes lawyer to see if you can negotiate a plea bargain to minimize the charges you will face.
Potential Criminal Penalties
The penalties for these crimes in California will vary depending on how the crime was committed, what the perpetrator acquired as a result and whether the accused party is an organization or individual. That being said, most fraud cases involve felony charges. Any individuals convicted of these charges may face prison or jail time. If the crime involved large amounts of money, the potential prison sentence will go up drastically.
Fraud Convictions Are Pricey
Financial penalties for these crimes are also very significant, particularly when the perpetrator is a corporation. No matter what else the sentence entails, making restitution to the victim is mandatory. It is also worth noting that this is a crime that will often result in the loss of any professional licenses or accreditation.
Long Term Employment Consequences
If you are convicted of these crimes in California, you will not only face serious penalties, but also face long-term challenges when you seek employment after your release from prison because few people trust those with fraud convictions on their record.
Call a Fraud Lawyer As Soon Possible
The San Diego Police Department and District Attorney each have specialized units devoted exclusively to investigating and prosecuting white collar cases. Additionally, if an insurance company was involved in the scheme, they will have their own team investigate the case as well. These criminal cases may also be tried in a Federal Court and federal agencies also have special investigators to uncover fraud. All of this means that if you have been charged this crime, there is probably a lot of evidence against you.
Don’t Talk Without Your Attorney Present
This is why you should never attempt to speak to investigators without an lawyer present. Remember that anything you say can be used against you and it is easy to incriminate yourself in these cases by trying to defend yourself. An experienced lawyer may be able to help you avoid prosecution or a prison sentence by negotiating directly with the victim of the crime. If you are under investigation for fraud or have already been accused, it is critical you hire a skilled white collar lawyer immediately.
I Can Help You Fight the Charges
As a top San Diego fraud defense attorney, I will always strive to achieve the best results for you given your specific situation, whether that means fighting the charges or negotiating a plea bargain. When it will help your case, I will investigate the situation, gather evidence and interview police and witnesses in order to build and present the strongest possible defense on your behalf.
You Need an Advocate on Your Side
I will always keep you updated about your case status and fight for you when it comes to arguing for reduced bail or making court motions that could help you. When you will face penalties, I will work to obtain the minimum possible sentence or some form alternative sentencing when available.
My Record Speaks for Itself
When you call my San Diego County law firm, you will always get an answer thanks to my 24-hour-a-day answering service and I always return calls promptly. I have earned top ratings on Yelp, Google and Avvo by always giving my clients the best possible representation at affordable rates.
If you have been accused of any form of fraud, please call either of my offices, located in Vista and Carmel Valley, or as soon as possible for more information or to schedule a free consultation.