What is Affinity Fraud?
The number of investment frauds being perpetrated against Florida residents is ever-growing. For instance, one increasingly popular type of investment-related fraud is known as affinity fraud, which is a scam perpetrated against an identifiable group, usually members of a religious organization. Many individuals who are charged with affinity fraud may not even have known that their actions were unlawful, making it especially important that those who are being investigated for committing this type of white collar crime seek guidance from an experienced criminal defense attorney in south Florida as soon as possible.
Defining Affinity Fraud
Affinity fraud involves the targeting of members of a particular group for fraudulent purposes, including:
- Religious groups;
- Ethnic communities;
- The elderly; and
- Professional groups.
In fact, those accused of participating in affinity scams are often members of the group in question. Furthermore, affinity fraud usually involves one of the following types of schemes:
- Ponzi schemes, which involve taking money from investors by promising high returns and then paying the managers from the funds provided by investors; or
- Pyramid schemes, which involve convincing investors to buy into a multi-level marketing business where individuals make money by signing others up to market the product.
Penalties and Defenses
Affinity fraud is a method of carrying out other types of investment fraud, so defendants can face a multitude of state and federal charges for a variety of offenses, including:
- Mail fraud;
- Wire fraud;
- Securities and commodities fraud;
- Embezzlement; and
Furthermore, if a person joins a group in order to convince other members to participate in a fraudulent investment, he or she can be charged with any offenses committed by other co-conspirators. This means that even those who did not play an important or active role in a fraud-related scheme could face a lengthy prison sentence and hefty fines. For instance, defrauding a financial institution alone can result in imprisonment for up to 30 years.
Because the potential penalties are so severe, it is extremely important for those who have been charged with a fraud-related crime to contact an attorney who can help them formulate a defense. Examples of potential defenses include the following:
- The defendant did not intend to defraud anyone;
- There is insufficient evidence to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt;
- Evidence was seized illegally; and
- The defendant acted in good faith.
Sometimes it is in a defendant’s best interest to accept a plea deal or enter into negotiations with the state or federal prosecutor. However, this is not always the case, so if you have been offered a plea deal, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney before entering into a binding agreement.
Contact a Dedicated White Collar Crime Attorney Today
If you live in south Florida and are being investigated for a fraud-related offense, please contact the legal team at Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A., Criminal Defense Attorneys by calling 305-670-9919 and we’ll help you schedule a one-on-one consultation with an experienced white collar crime attorney who can evaluate your case.