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When someone says the word “fraud,” what do you think of? Identity theft? Signing a bad check? Telling a white lie?
Fraud is one of the most common white collar crimes, and it comes in many forms. In fact, all of these actions fall under the massive umbrella of fraud under Colorado law. Moreover, as technology and the way we use and store our finances changes, new types of fraud and new fraud schemes are being created every day.
With so many different types of fraud out there, it begs the question: how are fraud charges treated in court?
In a word: harshly.
Fraud costs Americans hundreds of billions of dollars each year, so state and federal law enforcement officials make fraud investigations a high priority. Many fraud charges have sentences that involve years in jail and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. Getting charged with fraud is no joke.
To help you better understand fraud, we’ve defined four main groups of fraud crimes, each of which is associated with unique tools and different penalties.
Criminal Possession of a Financial Device – If you are found in criminal possession of a financial device (anything that can be used to obtain money, including credit cards, debit cards, and money orders), you face class 1 misdemeanor charges. Criminal possession of two financial devices is a class 6 felony. Four financial devices (belonging to different account holders) is a class 5 felony.
Identity Theft – This kind of fraud is typically paired with credit card and other types of fraud. Identity theft is the crime of knowingly and intentionally using someone else’s personal information to make a financial payment or tamper with a financial device for the use of financial gain. For example, using someone’s stolen information to apply for a legitimate credit card is considered identity theft. In Colorado, identity theft is a class 4 felony. If convicted, you may be sentenced to 12 years in prison and face fines of $500,000.
Bad Check Fraud – Getting cash or goods through a forged or bad check has penalties including 3-18 months in prison and fines of up to $100,000, depending on how much money you were allegedly attempting to obtain. For checks valued at less than $500, you can be charged with a class 2 misdemeanor. Checks valued between $500-$1,000 count as a class 1 misdemeanor. And checks valued at over $1,000 will earn you class 6 felony charges.
If the checks were forged, you may also face additional charges of forgery. This is classified as a class 5 felony. Simply possessing forged documents is classified as either a class 2 misdemeanor or a class 6 felony.
Insurance Fraud – If an individual or an organization tries to make a false claim or set up a false incident in order to obtain money from their insurance provider, they have committed an act of insurance fraud. This could be as simple as lying on an application or as complicated as an elaborate scheme involving arson or a car accident set up to provide a big insurance payout.
Lying on an application or renewal is a class 1 misdemeanor, but all other charges of insurance fraud are labeled as a class 5 felony. Committing the fraud as a business also comes with administrative penalties, and you may lose your business license.
Keep in mind that these are not the only types of fraud charges. You may also face charges for investment fraud, return fraud, workers’ compensation fraud, and more. If you have been arrested on any charges related to fraud, forgery, or perjury, call a Colorado criminal defense lawyer today.
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.