What are the Punishments for Committing Fraud Crimes in the US?

Fraud is a serious crime that carries severe penalties in the United States. Learn about different types of fraud crimes and their punishments.

What are the Punishments for Committing Fraud Crimes in the US?

Fraud is a serious crime that carries severe penalties in the United States. Depending on the type of fraud, the number of victims, and the amount of financial loss, a conviction can lead to up to several years in prison or even more. The punishment usually includes a prison sentence, a restitution order for the victim to recover, and fines. The lawyer has the burden of proving every element of a federal fraud crime beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict it.

Fraud generally requires that you had the specific intention of deceiving someone for profit. There are dozens of fraud-related crimes that can be prosecuted under federal law. Some of the most common types of fraud crimes are health care fraud, identity theft, postal or electronic fraud, mortgage fraud, securities fraud, commodities fraud, tax fraud, and soliciting minors. Health care fraud involves knowingly and deliberately executing or attempting to execute a plan to defraud or falsely obtain money or property from any health care benefit program, such as Medicare and Medicaid.

Examples include overbilling health care services and charging a patient for performing unnecessary medical procedures. Identity theft is when you knowingly and unlawfully produce, transfer, or possess an identification document, authentication feature, or false identification document with the intention of unlawful use. If you commit identity theft to facilitate an act of national or international terrorism, you face up to 40 years in prison. Postal or electronic fraud is using the United States Postal Service, a private postman (such as FEDEX), telephone, fax, Internet, radio, television, or any medium of interstate or international cable communication as part of a fraud plan.

Mortgage fraud consists of misrepresenting or omitting information in a mortgage loan application to obtain a loan or to obtain a larger loan than would have been obtained if the lender or borrower had known the truth. A lender's agent who misleads or deceives a consumer can also be prosecuted for what are commonly known as “abusive loans”. Securities and commodities markets are regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Examples of stock market fraud include Ponzi or pyramid schemes, investment plans, embezzlement of funds from brokers, and foreign currency fraud.

Insider trading is when you trade stocks or other securities using information that is not available to the public. Tax fraud occurs when a taxpayer tries to evade or avoid paying federal income taxes. Examples include overestimating business expenses, not reporting income, or even not filing a tax return. The punishment for these fraud crimes depends on whether you committed this act by computer (see computer fraud) or by mail or bank transfer (see postal or electronic fraud). Under federal law, if convicted you can face fines of up to ten million (10 million) dollars and a prison sentence of up to five (years), with an increased prison sentence of up to twenty (20) years for federal securities fraud.

In addition to the penalties described above, he also faces compensation for his victims, the loss of his professional license (doctor, stockbroker, lawyer, etc.), and federal law requires that you serve a minimum of 85 percent of your sentence before you can be released. Because stock fraud is both a federal and state crime, the penalties can be very severe. Many fraud-based crimes are carried out through electronic fraud including insurance fraud, tax fraud and bank fraud. Birth certificates as well as the manufacture of products and their sale on the grounds that they are branded products are considered fraud. The coronavirus pandemic has even led to a new type of fraud related to unemployment benefits and identity theft. If you are accused of committing any type of fraud crime, it is important that you seek help from an experienced lawyer who can help you understand your rights and fight for your best interests.