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Working from home and online jobs are more popular than ever. Unfortunately, many scammers are taking advantage of this situation by offering seemingly legitimate jobs that are actually money laundering schemes. The FBI and BBB have warned of these scams and explained to job-seekers that getting caught up in these scams can even lead to federal charges.

Moving Money or Packages for a Third Party May Lead to Money Laundering Changes

Many people are looking for jobs they can complete from the comfort of their own home or car. Unfortunately, not all job listings are from legitimate employers. One common scam involves inspecting and delivering packages. The individual is asked to receive packages and then re-label the packages and ship them elsewhere. What the package inspector may not know is that the packages were purchased using stolen credit card information and they are simply a middleman in an illegal scheme. Anyone participating in a scam like this could face criminal charges for money laundering or conspiracy.

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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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Chicago federal criminal defense lawyerFederal money laundering charges can result in years of prison time. Financial crimes are taken very seriously by the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies. If you are up against charges for money laundering, building a strong defense is your top priority right now. Even after any judicially-imposed penalties have been completed, you could be left a felon. Being a felon closes doors - it may be extremely difficult to find the type of job you want or desirable housing. There are a number of possible defense strategies. The particular strategy your lawyer will use is heavily dependent on the specific facts and circumstances of your case. After assessing your case, your attorney will design a defense that is most likely to work well for you. 

What Are Some Defense Strategies for Money Laundering?

There are a number of strategies your lawyer may want to use, some specific to money laundering, and others more general. You may have a good defense that is not listed here, so make sure to speak with an attorney to find out whether another defense could apply to your situation. Some defense strategies for money laundering include: 

  • Legitimate source of funds - If there is a way to show that you were receiving the funds that you allegedly laundered from a legitimate source, this can be a very strong defense to money laundering. When it succeeds, the case can be dismissed or you could be acquitted at trial. 
  • Lack of knowledge - It sometimes happens that someone becomes tangled up in a money-laundering operation without realizing it. This could happen when an innocent person goes into business with a corrupt individual, who launders money without his partners knowing about it. 
  • Coercion or duress - If you were somehow forced into participating in a money-laundering scheme, you may be able to avoid a conviction. Mere social or familial pressure cannot establish this defense, nor can a need for money. However, if you were threatened or blackmailed into participating, you may have this type of case. 
  • Insufficient evidence - The government has the burden to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you were accepting illegal funds and concealing them to make them appear legitimate. It will also need to be shown that you did so with a certain level of intent. 

In some cases, taking a plea bargain may ultimately be the best option. However, if your lawyer believes that you do have a very strong defense, they may suggest raising it at trial. In rare cases, charges have been dismissed before reaching the trial stage of the criminal justice procedure.

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Posted by on in Federal Crimes

Chicago medical identity theft defense lawyerLike everything else lately, medical care has become extraordinarily expensive for the average person. It should come as no surprise that some people have resorted to identity theft in order to obtain medical care. However, doing so can lead to federal charges rather easily. Because most major hospital systems are tied to some form of federal funding or operate in multiple states, most instances of medical identity theft will fall under federal jurisdiction. While a somewhat understandable offense, identity theft remains a felony even when it is committed in an effort to receive health care. If you have been charged with identity theft in a medical context, it is important that you immediately contact a skilled federal crimes defense attorney. 

How Does Medical Identity Theft Work?

Medical identity theft is a bit of an unusual, but increasingly common form of stealing another person’s identity. In general, it occurs when someone uses false documentation or provides false information to a medical provider, claiming to be someone else in order to be treated. Forms of this offense include: 

  • ER fraud - Most Emergency Rooms ask people to type in their social security number and give their name, rather than showing ID. People who need emergency care and cannot pay for it will sometimes use another person’s social security number and name. This can be done with or without the victim’s knowledge - or blessing. 
  • Medicare fraud - Using a stolen identity in order to obtain Medicare benefits is not uncommon. This typically involves rather classic identity theft - stealing a person’s identifying information, like their social security number - and then applying for benefits in the victim’s name. Because Medicare and Medicaid are such large organizations, it can be difficult for them to notice this type of fraud immediately. 
  • Insurance fraud - Using another person’s identity and health insurance policy to obtain treatment is a type of identity theft. A copy of another person’s insurance card is often all that is needed. Services will then be charged to the victim and/or the victim’s insurance company. 
  • Narcotics fraud - Patients who are prescribed a controlled substance may fall victim to this type of offense. The offenders in this situation are motivated by a desire to obtain intoxicating medications rather than to receive medical treatment. An offender may use the victim’s identity in order to refill, obtain, or pick up a prescription for a controlled substance. 

Unlike most forms of identity theft, medical identity theft is sometimes carried out with the consent of the “victim.” The person whose identity is being falsely used to obtain health care is sometimes deemed an accomplice if they willingly allowed the defendant to use their identity. 

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Chicago high-profile criminal case lawyerGetting arrested is embarrassing enough if only one or two people know about it. When the news of your arrest ends up in the local paper - or worse - you will have to start taking important precautions to protect yourself and your family. Depending on the nature of the crime you are charged with, and whether there was any significant local impact, you may face serious backlash that will impact every aspect of your life. You may also feel pressure to speak up publicly in your own defense, but this is rarely a good idea. The first thing you need to do is find a lawyer who is experienced at managing media attention during a high-profile case

What Should I Do if I See My Case in the News?

You might be feeling a strong desire to try to publicly clear your name or explain yourself. This almost never improves the situation, and it is very likely to do the opposite. Always follow your attorney’s specific advice, but some general advice can include: 

  • Do not post - Tweeting, posting a video, or even making a Facebook post to your friends about what happened (or did not happen) should be avoided unless your lawyer tells you otherwise. Your post is very likely to get picked up by the media that initially reported on your case. 
  • Be patient - Unless you are a major celebrity or all over the major news networks, the odds that the media is going to keep covering your story are low. It is more likely that after the initial story is reported, there will be little follow-up. The public has a short attention span, so your case is likely to “blow over.” 
  • Maintain a low profile - Try not to draw attention to yourself for the time being. If you do anything the media is likely to find “interesting,” it will only encourage them to keep covering your case. 
  • No comment - Avoid talking directly to the media. If something needs to be said, let your lawyer say it for you. It is easy for the press to twist your words or use dramatic sound bites to try to make you look guilty even if you are not. 
  • Be safe - If you are facing significant backlash from your community to the point that you feel unsafe, take precautions. If there are angry people gathering by your home, consider staying elsewhere until the situation calms down. Consider getting a door alarm or security cameras.

One of the most important things you can do is to contact a lawyer, sooner rather than later. There are other steps an experienced attorney can take to help protect you. 

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