December 9, 2023
A woman from Aurora may be facing fraud charges after allegedly forging paperwork to get her neighbor’s house for the price of $1.
How did this happen? Apparently, her neighbor was living in Germany when she received a phone call that someone was living in her house.
Dominique Johnson, also nationally known as slam poet Dominique Christina, recorded a quit claim deed at the Arapahoe County Clerk and Recorder’s Office on July 31. Typically, there is a six-week delay between the clerk’s receipt of the deed and the assessor’s office transfer of the property, but in mid-August, a clerk in the assessor’s office noticed a problem with the signatures and did not complete the transfer request.
According to the document, homeowner Shamma Al Reyami transferred ownership of the home to her for $1. However, Al Reyami has denied that the quit claim deed is authentic and the notary public official has since invalidated her notarization. A valid quit claim deed legally allows home ownership transfers between individuals without a sale.
An investigation into the alleged quit claim deed to the home is now underway with the Aurora Police Economic Crimes Unit. However, the courts are responsible to determine a document’s authenticity, and now the case is on its way to civil court.
A local television station reported that Johnson has a criminal history of theft, forgery, misrepresentation, and impersonating a police officer. If she is convicted of fraud in the suit from Al Reyami, her prior convictions have the potential to enhance her sentencing.
Understanding Charges of Fraud in Colorado
For fraud to occur, these four elements must be proven in a court of law:
- An untrue representation about an important event or fact must be made by an individual or organization.
- A victim believes the untrue representation.
- The victim takes action based on the untrue representation.
- The victim suffers loss of property or money due to acting upon the untrue representation.
In Colorado, many types of activities are classified as fraud. Here’s a list of common instances of fraud with two examples noted in detail:
- Conflict of Interest
- False Statements and Claims
- Mail and Wire Fraud
Criminal Possession of a Financial Device
If an individual has knowledge or should have reasonable knowledge that a financial device has been lost, stolen, or delivered by mistake, and then uses the device, they may face fraud charges along with identity theft charges. A financial device includes credit and debit cards, checks, money orders, and bank drafts.
A conviction on one count of criminal possession of a financial device is a class 1 misdemeanor. For two or more financial devices, it is a class 6 felony charge. Four or more financial devices to different account holders amount to a class 5 felony charge.
A conviction on this charge may result in punishments of six months to three years in prison, fines between $5,000 and $100,000, and restitution for the stolen equivalents.
This version of fraud is when an individual knowingly possesses or uses personal or financial information of another person without permission with the intent of obtaining something of value, make a payment, or complete an application for credit.
An individual convicted of identity theft faces punishments for a class 4 felony, which equal up to twelve years in prison and maximum fines of $500,000.
How to Protect Yourself If You Are Charged
Luckily, several different defenses are available to fight back against fraud charges. The most common defenses for fraud include the following:
- Absence of intent. Fraud charges are dependent on the intent to commit a crime of theft or deceit for personal gain. If intent cannot be reasonably proven, the charge may be dropped.
- If the government compelled you to commit a crime you would not have otherwise committed, you may be able to use the defense of entrapment. An experienced attorney with a successful track record in fraud cases can help you know if this defense could be useful in your situation.
- Lack of sufficient evidence. The prosecution must have enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the crime of fraud was committed. Otherwise, the charges may be dismissed.
- Non-fraudulent statement. For fraud to occur, a false statement must connect with a real fact.
If you are facing fraud charges, contact a knowledgeable Colorado defense attorney as soon as possible. He or she will be able to review the details of your case and offer solid advice on how to proceed.
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.