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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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chicago federal criminal defense lawyerAfter the horrific events of September 11, 2001, U.S. Congress enacted the USA PATRIOT Act. Meant to deter and punish terrorists, the PATRIOT Act significantly broadened measures to catch terrorists, including domestic terrorists, and keep Americans safe. 

While the PATRIOT Act was undoubtedly enacted with lofty goals in mind, critics immediately voiced concerns that continue to this day. Activist campaigns and organizations frequently engage in activities that could technically be considered domestic terrorism, and indeed, people are sometimes prosecuted for acts of conscience. Certain sections of the Act, including those on civil forfeiture, broadened government powers in ways that critics claim are easily abused. If you are facing charges of domestic terrorism, know that you do not have to face them alone. You can get help from a criminal defense attorney and fight the charges against you. 

Claims of Domestic Terrorism Increasing

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have made big claims in recent years about the extent to which domestic terrorism has spread throughout the country. While some people firmly believe the broadened scope of what is considered domestic terrorism is politically motivated, if you are hit with domestic terrorism charges, it does not matter what political party you are - you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. 

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Posted by on in Federal Crimes

chicago criminal defense lawyerThe state of Utah was shocked last month when a reality TV star on Real Housewives of Salt Lake City pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges of committing federal wire fraud in a telemarketing scheme. While the reality TV storyline may prove irresistible to viewers, charges of federal telemarketing fraud carry serious consequences including extended time in federal prison. Under the terms of this reality TV star’s plea deal, she could spend up to 14 years in prison. If you or someone you love has been arrested for telemarketing fraud, it is important to understand this crime and the potential consequences you may face. 

Federal Mail and Wire Fraud Crimes

For most of us, scams are an obnoxious part of life. While many of these scams use either obvious or well-known tactics, others are quite sophisticated and more difficult to see through. No matter their level of sophistication, however, they are all illegal - whether they occur over the phone, through email, over text message, or by snail mail. 

Telemarketing fraud can be a plan, program, or campaign which is meant to induce the victim to buy something, participate in a contest or business opportunity, invest, or donate to a fraudulent charity. Telemarketers may also pose as a family member of a victim, pretending to be in urgent need of help. 

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chicago robbery defense lawyerAt the end of July of this year, an Illinois woman was arrested and charged with aggravated robbery for robbing a bank in Bloomington, IL. While her trial has yet to take place, she will likely face harsh federal consequences if convicted. This is because the vast majority of banks are covered by a federal law making robbery a federal crime. So if you have been busted robbing a bank, will you go to federal prison? If you are convicted, you almost certainly will. Read on to learn more and then contact an Illinois federal criminal defense lawyer for help. 

Is Every Bank Robbery a Federal Crime? 

Every bank that is part of the Federal Reserve System is covered by a 1934 law that makes it a federal crime to rob any member bank. The vast majority of banks in the United States are member banks of the Federal Reserve System because their deposits are insured by the federal government. This protects customers from the kind of losses they experienced during the Great Depression, but it also means that crimes committed in banks are covered under federal law as well as state law. 

Is Robbing an ATM Considered Bank Robbery? 

When someone steals or tries to steal any property of a bank, credit union, or savings and loan association, they have committed a bank robbery. One does not have to hold a teller at gunpoint and demand a bank vault be opened for bank robbery to occur; taking any property from a bank or similar institution is bank robbery as well. This includes: 

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