Articles Posted in White Collar Crimes

It’s not uncommon for someone to lose track of their budget and inadvertently overdraw their account when paying a bill. Making a mistake isn’t a crime. Where you will run into legal trouble though is when you know your funds don’t have money and you make the payment anyway. Florida passing bad checks

The term “worthless checks” may be a bit obsolete, as most of our transactions these days are digital. But that doesn’t make it any more lawful to withdraw money from an account with full knowledge that:

  • There were insufficient fund in the account.
  • That account doesn’t exist.
  • That account was closed.
  • They intentionally engaged in an act that would cause the recipient financial institution to issue a “refer to maker.” This is when the funds initially clear the maker’s account, but then are later flagged for fraud. Most common scenario is someone steal’s another person’s debit card information.

Although these can seem like minor offenses, the reality is that in Florida, they can be felonies. If you’re charged with passing bad checks in Florida, it is vital that you contact an experienced Broward financial crimes defense lawyer. We can help you fight charges like credit card fraud, forgery, embezzlement, worthless checks, identity theft, and more.

How Does Florida Define “Bad Checks” as a Crime?

F.S. 832.05(2)(a) states that it is a crime for someone to issue, make, delivery, draw, utter, draft, or use a debit card to exchange money – knowing full well there isn’t enough money in that account to cover the cost. Both individuals and businesses have a responsibility to avoid paying for goods, services, or other things of value with worthless checks.

(Similarly, if you deposit a check knowing that the funds from the account the check is drawing from are insufficient, that’s also a bank fraud crime under F.S. 832.05(4)(b).

For most people, overdraft of an account is an honest mistake. But if you tend to play fast-and-lose with your balance – even just knowing there’s a chance you might overdraw – that could result in legal consequences.

There are two exceptions to this: Continue reading

Many new types of fraud are either born or become big-time in Florida – South Florida in particular. A top agent for the Internal Revenue Service speculated it was a combination of factors: Beautiful weather and beaches a lot of people in general. Older folks – especially vulnerable to almost all kinds of fraud – often retire here. Florida also truly embodies the U.S. “melting pot,” with organized crime sprouting up from all ethnic groups. criminal defense lawyer Florida

The Federal Trade Commission reported earlier this year that Florida is the scam capitol of the country (based on both crime statistics and complaints made directly to the commission) with seniors the primary prey – at least in terms of dollars. Although there were more younger people who reported losing money to fraud, victims over 70 sustained higher median losses.

Whatever the reason, our Fort Lauderdale fraud attorneys know crimes of fraud, often referred to as “white collar crimes,” are often penalized severely, with defendants facing either state or federal charges, the distinction usually being the method of the scam, how much money it involved and whether it affected people in other states.  Continue reading

The Federal Trade Commission released a report earlier this year revealing Florida ranks No. 1 for complaints of fraud, and No. 2 for identity theft – the No. 1 fraudulent practice. From January through December last year, there were 270,000 complaints of fraud, amounting to 1,306 complaints of fraud per 100,000 population. fraud defense lawyer

So it’s no real surprise that our criminal defense attorneys are handling an increasing number of cases involving defendants accused of some type of fraud. As the FTC notes, the most common categories of fraud were:

Debt collection fraud;

  • Imposter scams;
  • Identity theft;
  • Phone & mobile fraud;
  • Bank and lending fraud.

These offenses can be charged at either the federal or state level, though they are more often federal cases because of the fact that many extend across state lines. Such was the case out of Fort Lauderdale involving four men accused of mail fraud. The Sun Sentinel reports the men were accused of participating in a sweepstakes mail fraud scheme that conned more than 100,000 people out of $25 million. Continue reading

A second person arrested in a wide-ranging federal investigation into insurance fraud by South Florida sober homes has pleaded guilty to health care fraud conspiracy. cash

The Sun-Sentinel reports the 45-year-old defendant conceded before the court that he had accepted nearly $250,000 in kickbacks to refer clients living in his sober living homes for testing and treatment for substance abuse. Additionally, he reportedly sent some 60 clients with health insurance to two different recovery centers, and those centers in return sent him approximately $500 a week.

At this point, authorities have arrested seven people for health care fraud conspiracy at sober homes throughout Broward and Palm Beach counties. A 46-year-old man from Boynton Beach was the alleged ringleader of the operation. Meanwhile, this defendant who recently pleaded guilty faces up to 10 years in federal prison.  Continue reading

A 75-year-old man from Broward County admitted in a Fort Lauderdale federal courtroom that he and two others heisted millions of dollars from investors more than 10 years ago, blew a good chunk of it on lavish lifestyles and squirreled away the rest in overseas accounts.

Burton Greenberg of Plantation pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy at a recent hearing. He faces up to two decades behind bars.

The guilty plea comes just one month after he and another man, 60-year-old Bruce Kane of Fort Lauderdale, were arrested in connection with the scheme. Kane is being held in a prison in upstate New York, where he was apprehended. A third man, a Canadian national, is a suspect but has not yet been arrested, though he is believed to be residing in Turkey.

These kinds of white collar criminal cases are almost always prosecuted at the federal level, which often translates to harsher penalties.

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A Fort Lauderdale man arrested for identity theft is accused of heisting the identities of others in order to open store credit cards in both Broward and Palm Beach Counties.
The investigation has been ongoing for a full year, since last April, when a Pembroke Pines man reported to police someone used his identity to open a store credit card at Nordstrom’s and charge thousands of dollars worth of merchandise to it. The alleged victim said he’d never been to the store and had never tried to open a line of credit with the firm.

Store managers told police the man opened the account with a driver’s license that contained the name, address and birth date of the victim, although the photograph was different. The store closed the account, and turned over surveillance video to officers. Using that information, police were able to spot the vehicle used by the suspect and got the license plate number.
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An appellate court recently denied an appeal by a defendant in a white collar criminal case, following his conviction on charges of mail fraud, conspiracy to commit mail fraud, theft from an organization receiving federal funds, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The denial of this appeal means the nine-year prison sentence for the former city official will stand.

Although many people who are convicted of white collar crimes are fairly well-educated, what our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers often find is that they don’t recognize the severity of the crimes of which they are charged – particularly at the start of the investigation.
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An elderly Cuban exile was convicted recently of medicare fraud. The judge tossed the book at him with a five-year prison term – despite the fact that he is 71, in frail health and remorseful.fatherandson.jpg

Fort Lauderdale defense lawyers know that the thing about this case that really attracted media attention was a theme that actually happens quite often in criminal cases: family members were pitted against one another.

In this situation, it was father against son.

While we all want to believe that there are individuals in our lives who we can trust no matter what, the potential threat of hard jail time on charges such as accessory or perjury can be quite compelling. Law enforcement and prosecutors know this well, and will often do anything they can to compel testimony from every possible witness they can – especially those closest to you.

This is an important point to make because often, one of the key mistakes defendants make in criminal cases is to speak to their loved ones about the charges either in jail or while they are on bond. This is bad idea for two reasons:

1. If you’re in jail, any correspondence should not be considered private. Phone calls are recorded and letters can be confiscated as evidence.
2. Even if you are released, prosecutors may find a way to threaten your loved ones with hefty prison terms if they don’t testify against you.

By refusing to discuss the case with anyone except your Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney, you are not only protecting your own interests, you may be protecting your family’s as well because you won’t be forcing them into a tight spot.

So what happened here?

According to The Miami Herald, the defendant allegedly stole millions of dollars from the federal government through kickbacks from referrals to several of his local rehabilitation clinics.

Back in 2010, the son, father and a business partner were indicted for reportedly bribing facilities for the elderly and disabled (nursing homes, home health care companies, etc.) for Medicare referrals. In return, they were reportedly paid more than $6 million for services that either weren’t necessary or were not provided. The alleged scheme occurred between 2006 and 2008.

This man’s clinics reportedly accounted for more than $350 million in Medicare claims. To put this in perspective, that is a fourth of all claims for occupational and physical therapy – in the U.S.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation began digging deeper in 2006 with undercover probe. He was overheard at a wedding reception bragging that he would never be arrested because he had been acquitted of similar crimes two decades ago.

Ultimately, the FBI conducted a sting that involved having an agent pose as a patient recruiter. The agent reportedly received a kickback from the father in an exchange that was videotaped.

When word of the investigation reached the father, he reportedly fled out of the country to Costa Rica. His son was offered a plea deal – serve four years for conspiracy to defraud and cooperate with prosecutors, or else face a heftier sentence.

The father’s defense lawyer called this tactic egregious, particularly considering the fact that this testimony would have occurred just before Father’s Day, had the father not ultimately pleaded guilty.
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Is it Fort Lauderdale fraud or is it an issue of religious freedom? tarot.jpg

Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys are closely watching the case involving a family of Roma, fortune-telling gypsies who are accused of defrauding their clientele of some $40 million.

Prosecutors say that the family preyed on clients when they were enduring some of the lowest points in their lives. The indictment spells out the charges, which indicate that the family offered psychic services and “healing” at their Fort Lauderdale shop. The women reportedly told their clients that they could cure diseases, tell the future and ward off bad spirits from bodies and homes, as well as cleans souls and remove curses. They did all this in exchange for jewelry, money and other valuables.

Lawyers for the federal government say this alone wouldn’t be illegal except that the family took valuables, promised to cleanse spirits and remove curses and then give back the items. However, the items were not returned.

Federal agents reportedly seized some $2 million worth of valuables at the home, which included a plush home, luxury cars and gold coins.

However, the family’s Fort Lauderdale defense attorney is arguing that the family’s practice involves rights that are constitutionally protected. Namely, fortune-telling is considered free speech under the First Amendment, and that spiritual healing involves religious freedom.

Defense attorneys are also aiming to sway the federal judge to drop the charges prior to the November trial, underscoring that the Roma have been the subject of much discrimination and even persecution – particularly during the Holocaust, when they were one of the groups who were victims of genocide by the Nazi’s.

In a lengthy document that argues the religious rights of his client, one of the defense attorneys in the case has said his 42-year-old client has aimed to do nothing but help people in accordance with her personally-held beliefs. He said that a court injunction that bars her and the other eight family members from practicing fortune-telling or spiritual healing leading up to the trial has not only cost them their livelihood, it has meant they have been unable to practice their religious beliefs.

In interviews with investigators, his client often talked about religion, the reading of numbers, spirits and God. She essentially believes that she has the power to communicate with spirits – both good and evil. Within the Roma culture, she is reportedly considered to be a highly-regarded healer.

It remains to be seen whether those arguments will hold weight.

One of the victims interviewed by prosecutors said she was encouraged to attend twice-weekly healing and meditation sessions, and was told any money that she contributed for this would be returned three times over. However, that money was never returned.

The defense attorneys are aiming to show that the Establishment Clause of the constitution guarantees this family’s right to practice their beliefs – even if, as courts have previously ruled, that those beliefs aren’t held to be acceptable, logical or consistent to others.

Additionally, accepting money for services is routinely done in other mainstream religions. Think about the offering plate that is passed around at Christian services. These payments for psychic services, the defense attorneys say, were no different.
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Two brothers are facing a host of Fort Lauderdale fraud charges after allegations have surfaced claiming they conspired to create phony companies to heist some $3 million from health insurance companies.

This reportedly happened while a brother was out on bond, awaiting trial for an alleged $1.25 billion plan to swindle investors.

The case, which has been called one of the biggest schemes in Florida history, had connections to former Gov. Charlie Crist, and ultimately led to a five-year corruption investigation, spearheaded by the U.S. Justice Department.

Our Fort Lauderdale defense attorneys understand that cases like this can be complicated, and truly require a lawyer who is experienced and well-versed in fraud and conspiracy laws.

Here’s what we know so far about these cases, according to The Miami Herald:

The two brothers had been indicted in 2008 on charges of conspiracy, in which investors were reported to have lost some $840 million in fake life insurance policies. Between 1995 and 2004, they had reportedly sold life insurance policies that were held by individuals who were dying of AIDS. They admitted that they fudged the truth to investors when it came to the life expectancy of the policy holders, and they didn’t tell the truth about how risky the plans were.

The year before that, one of the brothers had accused a doctor and key Republican fundraiser in Broward County of essentially blackmailing him for a $400,000 political donation. In exchange, the fundraiser said he could make sure that his friend, then-Gov. Charlie Crist, could make sure to shut down the federal investigation into his company’s dealings.

That’s what sparked the Justice Department investigation, although not much ultimately came of it. The fundraiser pleaded guilty to charges of income tax fraud, after reportedly admitting to diverting hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contributions into his own pocket. He’s now serving a four-year prison sentence. That fundraiser in turn accused a Fort Lauderdale Democratic senator of accepting more than $80,000. That lawmaker has been indicted on tax violations.

Meanwhile, the other brother in this case is facing allegations that he laundered millions through home purchases up north, while hiding assets from federal investigators and deceiving the court-appointed receiver.

So now, the two brothers are accused of yet another scheme, which occurred while they were out on millions of dollars in posted bond. The indictment indicates they created “shell” companies. Through these companies, the brothers reportedly filed applications for group health insurance. These were sent to Cigna, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Assurant. The latter two agreed to provide coverage – which the brothers were not actually qualified to receive. They then submitted some $3 million in claims, including for surgery required by one of the brothers.

Already, 10 brokers, executives and a doctor who worked with the brothers have been convicted. One was even sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The brothers each face long prison sentences and severe fines and restitution payments.
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