Fraud cases can be extremely complex, and the potential penalties for being found guilty of fraud are very serious. Shaw Cowart LLP handles all sides of fraud disputes and litigation, representing both those accused of committing fraud and those who have suffered as victims of fraudulent acts.
Our knowledgeable team of skilled fraud attorneys provide the experience and resources needed in these complicated disputes. We are committed to obtaining the best possible outcome for our clients, and we will not hesitate to pursue justice through the court system when necessary.
If you are looking for an experienced fraud lawyer in Austin you can trust with your case, contact Shaw Cowart LLP today online or at 512-499-8900 for a free consultation.
What Is Fraud?
In the broadest sense, the term fraud encompasses any crimes for gain that use deception as a principal method. It can include any deliberate or intentional acts to deprive others of money or property by deception or other unfair means.
Common examples of fraud are detailed below.
Forgery is considered a felony in all fifty states by the federal government. Forgery can be defined as the possessing, altering, using, or making of a false document with the intent to commit fraud. To be found guilty of forgery, it must be proven that:
- You made, altered, used, or possessed a false document
- The forgery represents something it is not
- You had intent to defraud
- The forgery has legal significance
Documents of legal significance that are commonly involved with cases of forgery include:
- Stock certificates
- Drug prescriptions
- Drivers licenses
- Historical documents
- Military documents
- Works of art and certificates of authentication
Contract fraud occurs when one party enters into a contract because of the deceit or intentional misrepresentation of the other party. This fraud almost always renders the contract invalid.
In order to establish contract fraud, the following elements must be proven:
- There was a misrepresentation of a material fact
- The misrepresentation was made knowingly
- The misrepresentation was made with the intent to defraud
- The misrepresentation was justifiably relied upon
- The misrepresentation caused injury to the other party
Legal Documents Fraud – Falsifying Documents
Falsifying documents is considered a white collar crime that involves the possessing, passing, modifying, changing, or altering of a document for an unlawful purpose. Legal documents fraud is typically a component of another offense, such as forgery, tax evasion, or other fraud.
Just some examples of types of legal documents that can be involved in this form of fraud include:
- Identification cards
- Personal checks
- Business records
- Bank records
- Academic transcripts
- Tax returns
When someone uses the United States Postal Service to defraud another person of money or property, it is referred to as mail fraud, which is a federal crime. Initial contact can be made on the internet, through e-mail, or over the phone, but in order to be considered mail fraud, the U.S. Mail must be used to carry out part of the scheme to defraud.
Common mail fraud schemes, as listed by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, include:
- Credit card fraud
- Sweepstakes fraud
- Fraud targeted at the elderly
- Ponzi schemes
- Work-at-home schemes
- Franchise fraud
Credit Card Fraud
It is estimated that roughly $1 billion in credit card fraud happens every year in the U.S. Credit card fraud occurs when someone uses a stolen credit card, or credit card information, to make unauthorized purchases or take cash advances in the name of the actual credit card holder.
Common types of credit card fraud include:
- Skimming: When a merchant takes a buyer’s credit card information and uses it for unauthorized purchases
- Phishing: When a hacker steals credit card information over the internet through a mock-up website
- Account takeover: A type of identity theft, this involves someone changing address information to take control of another’s credit
- Application fraud: Also linked to identity theft, this type of fraud involves obtaining credit in someone else’s name
- Physically stolen cards: This involves the physical theft and use of someone else’s credit card
Stock Fraud and Securities Fraud
Stock fraud, also known as investment fraud and securities fraud, involves the deceptive practice in the commodities or stock markets that induce an investor to make sales decisions or purchases based on false information. Stock fraud may be committed by an individual, such as a stockbroker, or an organization, such as an investment bank, brokerage firm, or corporation.
Tax fraud, or tax evasion, basically entails trying to avoid paying an entire tax obligation by cheating on a tax return. It occurs when a person or business intentionally and willfully falsifies tax information to reduce the amount of a tax liability.
Common examples of tax fraud include:
- Claiming illegitimate dependents on a tax return
- Claiming fake or illegitimate business expenses
- Purposely underpaying taxes
- Falsifying income records
- Underreporting income
Passport and Visa Fraud
Passport and Visa fraud occurs when someone attempts to illegally obtain a United States passport, or use an altered or stolen passport.
Passport and visa fraud may be committed to:
- Commit fraud against financial institutions or individuals
- Facilitate other crimes, such as drug or human trafficking
- Conceal the identity of fugitives, terrorists, or habitual offenders
Contact Our Austin Fraud Attorneys
If you are facing fraud crime charges, or want to pursue a fraud case against another party, contact Shaw Cowart LLP at our Austin or Houston office online or at 512-499-8900 to schedule a confidential consultation.