Fraudulent Activities and Florida State Law
Fraudulent activity and practices are rampant here in South Florida. Whether it’s white collar crime or health care fraud, Florida sees it all. In addition to seeing fraud against consumers, there is also fraud being committed against local, state and federal government organizations and agencies. The distinction between whether a fraudulent crime was committed against the government or against a consumer has a big impact on the laws a person is prosecuted under, as well as the resulting sentences. However, though we see discussions about fraud on the news and from other media, few people understand the elements of fraud, and what is required to be prosecuted for fraud under Florida state law. As a result, we have decided to provide a tutorial regarding the basic elements of Florida state’s laws on fraud.
Understanding Florida Statute Chapter 817
Chapter 817 of the Florida statutes is devoted to all of the different potential fraudulent activities that could be committed in Florida. What is interesting and somewhat complicated about this section of Florida law is the fact that it does not provide a specification regarding what constitutes a general, singular fraudulent activity. Instead, Chapter 817 provides an enumeration of over 50 different types of fraudulent activities, and the basic elements that are required to be present in order to be considered a specific type of fraud. For example, section 03 of Chapter 817 provides the requirements for the fraudulent act of making false statement to obtain property or credit, which in relevant part provides that:
“Any person who shall make or cause to be made any false statement, in writing, relating to his or her financial condition, assets or liabilities, or relating to the financial condition, assets or liabilities of any firm or corporation in which such person has a financial interest, or for whom he or she is acting, with a fraudulent intent of obtaining credit, goods, money or other property, and shall by such false statement obtain credit, goods, money or other property, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in” other sections.
The fraudulent activities contained in Chapter 817 are categorized by type. The different types of fraud covered by Chapter 817 include: Part I, covering fraud pretenses and frauds generally; Part II, which covers fraudulent crimes involving credit cards; Part III, which covers credit service organizations, and; Part IV, which covers credit counseling services. Also contained within Chapter 817 is the Florida Communications Fraud Act, which provides strict penalties for those who attempt to defraud others. Under the Act it is illegal to engage in a scheme to defraud, which is defined as:
“a systematic, ongoing course of conduct with intent to defraud one or more persons, or with intent to obtain property from one or more persons by false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises or willful misrepresentations of a future act”.
Essentially, the Act was created to protect consumers from mass fraud schemes. Those found guilty of violating the Act can face severe penalties including being found guilty of a felony, required to remit restitution payments in the amount defrauded, as well as required to pay penalties and serve jail time. Understanding the Florida state laws regarding fraud can be difficult, partially because there are so many different types of fraud described under the law. As a result, you will need Florida white collar crime attorney Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. to provide you with the legal representation and advice that you deserve.