Major Fraud Against the U.S.
Although most people know that it is possible to be prosecuted for defrauding a company or another person, many are not aware that fraud against the government is also a serious crime. In fact, even attempting to defraud the U.S. is punishable by jail time and significant fines, so if you have been accused of fraudulent activity, it is critical to speak with an experienced white collar crime attorney who can help you begin building a defense.
Elements of Fraud
A private party can be convicted of major fraud against the government if the prosecution can prove that he or she:
- Executed or attempted to execute a scheme with the intent to defraud the U.S. or to obtain money or property by using materially false pretenses or representations;
- The scheme took place as a part of acquiring property, services, or funds as a contractor, subcontractor, or supplier on a contract with the U.S.; and
- The value of the contract or subcontract was $1,000,000 or more.
A defendant can also be convicted if the fraudulent activity involved a U.S. grant, subsidy, insurance, guarantee, or other form of federal assistance. Even if the false promise occurred before the contract was created, a person can still be convicted under this statute. In fact, the fraudulent pretenses or promises can have occurred at any time between the initial negotiations and when the contract was actually being carried out. However, in order to qualify as a false representation, the statement must have concerned a material fact that the speaker knew was untrue. Even a half truth or an effort to conceal a material fact can fall under this category if it was made with the intent to defraud.
Consequences of Conviction
The amount of the fine imposed on those who have been convicted of major fraud against the U.S. depends on the individual circumstances of each case. Generally, those who are convicted of this offense face fines of up to $1,000,000 and ten years in prison. However, the fine imposed could be increased to $5,000,000 per count if:
- The gross loss to the government or the gross gain to the defendant was $500,000 or more; or
- The offense involved a reckless risk of serious personal injury.
To determine the fine that will be imposed on a defendant, courts are directed to take a series of factors into consideration, including:
- The seriousness of the offense, which includes an analysis of the harm or loss incurred by the victim and the defendant’s gain;
- Whether the defendant had committed a similar offense on a prior occasion; and
- Any other equitable considerations.
In addition to these penalties, many defendants who are accused of committing fraud against the government are also charged with mail and wire fraud charges, which can increase the prison sentence and fines faced by the defendant. Charges of defrauding the U.S. must be filed within seven years of the date that the offense was allegedly committed.
Contact an Experienced White Collar Crime Attorney Today
If you have been charged with a fraud-related offense, please contact Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A., Criminal Defense Attorneys at 305-670-9919 to schedule a free consultation with a skilled Miami white collar crime attorney who can evaluate your case. You can also reach us by initiating a live chat with a member of our legal team.