What are the Penalties for Committing Fraud Crimes in the United States?

Fraud is a criminal offence with serious consequences. Learn about different types of fraud crimes in US and their associated penalties.

What are the Penalties for Committing Fraud Crimes in the United States?

Jail time or prison time for fraud can vary widely, but a misdemeanor conviction can lead to up to one year in a local jail, while a felony conviction can lead to several years in prison. Federal charges can lead to 10 years or more in federal prison. Fraud penalties depend on the type of fraud, the number of victims, and the amount of financial loss. The punishment usually includes a prison sentence, a restitution order for the victim to recover, and fines. Fraud is a criminal offence, but a person who has allegedly committed fraud can also be brought before civil court.

The greater the amount of money involved and the greater the victim of the fraud, the more severe the penalties will be. Mortgage and loan modification fraud, credit card fraud, loan fraud, check fraud, and identity fraud are all common fraud crimes that carry significant penalties that vary in severity depending on the amount of money extorted and the defendant's intention to commit the crime. Each state has its own set of laws for classifying fraud crimes and prescribing the penalties associated with them. In addition to potential jail time or prison time for fraud convictions, federal charges may also include restitution of the victim, loss of professional license, and years of supervised probation after release from prison. Counterfeiting is considered a serious crime in all 50 states and the penalties range from community service and probation to jail and restitution (reimbursing the defrauded party for lost money).

A government agency defrauding or attempting to defraud banks or federal financial institutions, committing or attempting to commit fraud through a postman or other forms of communication across state or international borders, computers used by the federal government or financial institutions for interstate and foreign commerce, or classified or privileged financial information or securities may face federal criminal charges. Anyone facing fraud charges needs an experienced fraud lawyer to have a fighting chance. A conviction for a white collar crime can have enormous legal, personal and professional implications. Health care fraud is defined as knowingly and deliberately committing or attempting to commit a fraud plan against Medicare, Medicaid, or any health care benefit program. Postal and electronic fraud is defined as using a government or private postman, telephone, fax, Internet, radio, television, or any interstate or foreign cable communication to commit a fraud scheme.

The coronavirus pandemic has even led to new types of fraud related to unemployment benefits and identity theft. Birth certificates as well as the manufacture of products and their sale on the grounds that they are branded products are also considered fraud.