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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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b2ap3_thumbnail_chicago-federal-crimes-attorney_20220603-142742_1.jpgFederal charges are often penalized more harshly than state level offenses. If you are convicted of a federal offense, you may be sentenced to years or even decades in prison. Federal wire fraud charges can be penalized by up to 20 years in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. If the fraud harmed a financial institution or involves a presidentially-declared emergency, the prison sentence can be up to 30 years.

If you or a loved one were charged with wire fraud, contact a federal criminal defense lawyer for help right away.

Federal Law on Wire Fraud

According to federal law, wire fraud occurs when:

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Chicago federal criminal defense attorneyMost students have little choice but to take out student loans. College, let alone graduate school, can be wildly expensive. Gone are the days when a student could work their way through college with a part-time job. For most, taking out federal student loans is the only way they can hope to access higher education. However, students and their families must be careful when filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Providing inaccurate information could lead to criminal charges, as could misusing student loan funds. This type of fraud is nearly always handled at the federal level. If you are facing charges for student loan fraud, it is important that you work closely with a skilled federal criminal defense attorney. 

What Actions Can Lead to Fraud Charges Relating to Student Loans?

It is easier than you may think to find yourself charged with fraud after applying for or receiving student loan funds. A conviction could lead to prison time, and you could lose educational opportunities in the future. Colleges may be very reluctant to admit someone who has this type of conviction on their record. Even finding employment may be difficult. 

These types of situations can lead to fraud allegations: 

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Posted by on in Fraud

b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_567634105.jpg Credit card fraud can be a crime carried out on a large scale. Some criminal organizations work to steal information from hundreds or thousands of people at a time, often casting a wide net with some type of online scam. However, in other cases, credit card fraud can be charged based on a single incident of using a credit card you had physically in your possession, but without its owner’s permission. Regardless of the facts alleged, credit card fraud is an extremely serious charge that can lead to 10 years in federal prison if you are convicted. It is important that you speak with a qualified attorney as soon as you know you have been accused. 

What Actions Could Be Considered Credit Card Fraud?

Like many federal criminal statutes, credit card fraud laws cover an extremely wide range of conduct ranging from the decidedly malicious to the perhaps innocent. In some cases, the defendant and the alleged victim know each other. In others, the fraud was part of a larger pattern of crime. Types of credit card fraud include: 

  • Skimming - A device that records credit card information is surreptitiously placed in the credit card strip reader at a place of business, often a gas station. Victims use their cards as normal, and their information is collected by the fraudster. Using such a device generally shows a pretty clear intent to commit large-scale fraud. 

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Posted by on in Fraud

chicago bank fraud lawyerIt is easier than you might think to find yourself facing federal bank fraud charges, even if you did not intend to do anything wrong. The problem with fraud cases is that a prosecutor must prove that you were knowingly trying to defraud a financial institution - when you may have in fact have unknowingly made a mistake on some paperwork. Facing federal charges is a frightening experience. You may be afraid of long prison terms, asset forfeiture, and loss of a career or your reputation in the community. These fears are reasonable. It is important that you are represented by an experienced attorney during any federal criminal proceeding. 

What Are Some Defenses to Bank Fraud? 

To convict you of federal bank fraud, the government will have to show that you knowingly defrauded or attempted to defraud a bank or obtained or tried to obtain assets from a financial institution through fraudulent means. The operative word is “knowingly.” Forgetting to list an old debt on a loan application, or absentmindedly writing your nickname on an official form could be construed as attempts at fraud, despite being inadvertent, if careless, mistakes. 

The most common defenses to federal bank fraud are based around a lack of intent. It is impossible to prove with certainty what was going on inside your head at the time you performed the act that allegedly constituted fraud. However, that is often the issue a bank fraud trial is decided based on. It may take the skill of an experienced attorney to successfully raise intent-based defenses, as there is often little evidence beyond your own statements. 

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