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chicago fraud defense lawyerIn today’s digitally connected world, we tend to use credit and debit cards to pay for just about everything. Most of us do not think twice before pulling out a card to pay for nearly any size purchase or typing in our card info to buy something online. But what could happen if you use someone else’s card to make a purchase or pay a bill? The answer depends on many different variables, but you could potentially face federal charges for credit card fraud.

A Changing World

When customer-facing credit card processing pads were first installed at retail establishments, cashiers were generally trained to verify that the person swiping the card was, in fact, authorized to do so. In practice, this process was little more than a cursory glance to compare the customer’s signature to the signature on the back of the card, but some cashiers would ask for identification from the customer. Some customers might not have been thrilled with the minor delay, but the purpose of the verification was to prevent fraud.

Today, however, cashiers rarely check signatures, and with the rise of PIN-protected debit transactions, retailers are largely staying away from determining whether or not a customer is authorized to use a particular card. Online retailers, by comparison, might ask for a billing address or other identifying details, but they still have no way to know who is actually making the purchase in most cases.

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chicago criminal defense lawyerWhen you think of “getting busted” for the possession or distribution of drugs, you might think of a local police officer happening to stumble upon a “drug buy” and arresting the parties involved. Or maybe, the cops were called to an area where a loud party was disturbing neighbors, and the police found several people in possession of illegal drugs.

While these scenarios can and do occur, other arrests and subsequent prosecutions are the results of lengthy investigations by state and federal law enforcement agencies. In such cases, it is not unusual for those arrested to face many years behind bars if they are convicted. Last month, two Chicago area men learned this lesson the hard way when they were convicted for their roles in bringing illegal drugs to Chicago from Mexico.

Disrupting the Drug Pipeline

According to court documents and information released by the U.S. Department of Justice, two men from suburban Chicago were found guilty of federal drug conspiracy charges last month after a week-long trial in federal court in Chicago. Each man now faces a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years in federal prison with a maximum of life in prison. One of the men was also convicted on a federal drug possession charge, making his mandatory minimum sentence 15 years with a maximum of life in prison.

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Illinois federal criminal defense attorney

Originally Published: November 17,2020 ------ Updated: September 13, 2022

Defendant Pleads Guilty to Two Federal Crimes

In November 2020, we told you about a Chicago-area businessman who was facing federal charges of wire fraud and money laundering in connection with an alleged scam. According to federal prosecutors, the man’s scheme involved offering personal protective equipment (PPE) for sale to hospitals and medical facilities. The offer coincided with the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and prosecutors believed that the man was trying to take advantage of the international crisis.

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chicago federal immigration fraud lawyerWe have all seen movies that show the lead characters from different parts of the world falling in love with one another and finding their proverbial “happily ever after.” Even in real life, there is often something very appealing about a foreign accent and the customs of another country. While we cannot control who we fall for, there are some things you should know about marrying a foreign national who is not a lawful permanent resident of the United States so that you can avoid the possibility of federal immigration fraud charges.

Non-Immigrant Visas

Each year, thousands of foreign nationals come to the United States on temporary, non-immigrant visas for a variety of reasons. Some are students in international study programs, and others come for work-related or business purposes. There are specific visas available for each of these situations. For those who simply wish to visit the United States, there are tourist visas available as well.

These visas are categorized as “non-immigrant” visas because they are intended to be used for a short time. They are not meant as a pathway for visitors to obtain lawful permanent resident status—commonly referred to as a “Green Card”—or eventual citizenship. A non-immigrant visa has a set date on which it will expire, after which it cannot be used to enter or remain in the United States legally.

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chicago criminal defense lawyerNew multi-level marketing (MLM) companies pop up all the time. Nearly everyone has a friend who is always trying to get them involved in the latest supplement, candle, or makeup line, with promises that if your interest goes beyond merely purchasing and you begin distributing, too, potential riches await. Cars, bonuses, and free products are just a few common rewards the MLM companies promise to their expanding network of employees. 

Those who invest their time and money in MLM companies often feel as though they got swindled or duped. Perhaps the product is not as good as they had hoped, or it is much harder to get friends and family interested in another miracle protein shake. Yet, unlike pyramid schemes, which bear many similarities to MLM schemes, MLM is legal. Why? And, if you are being charged with federal financial fraud for being involved in a pyramid scheme, is believing it to be an MLM campaign a defense? 

What is a Pyramid Scheme? 

A pyramid scheme begins when one person or a group of people begins to recruit others into an exclusive business, which the new members join by paying a fee. The new recruits continue inviting other people, and as they do so, they receive a portion of their recruits’ fee. The new recruits go on to recruit others, and so on and so forth. Pyramid schemes may have real products or a true business at their base; however, if most of the people involved in the scheme make money by recruiting new people rather than by selling products or services, the “business” is a pyramid scheme. 

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