8 Ways You Can Be Accused of Fraud

Have you been accused of committing fraud? In this article, a federal criminal defense lawyer in Tampa with The Rickman Law Firm will discuss eight of the most common crimes associated with fraud. Even if you are completely innocent of a crime, it’s important to know about the different types of fraud. If you have been accused of any of the crimes in this article, consult our criminal defense law attorneys in Tampa.  

1) Credit Card Fraud

It’s not unusual in the modern day for a consumer to discover that their credit card was compromised. There are many ways this can happen, including:

  • The consumer’s information was stolen and sold on the black market
  • The consumer filled out a fraudulent application online or over the phone
  • The credit card owner’s account was taken over by another party
  • A consumer either lost their card or their new card was intercepted through the mail

If you have been accused of credit card fraud, speak with an experienced federal criminal defense attorney in Tampa to learn about more potential legal defense strategies. 

2) Telemarketing Fraud

Telemarketing fraud is considered to be any type of misleading or deceptive offer made through phone solicitation services. Although there are plenty of credible telemarketing businesses that reach out to consumers, solicitors need to be aware of restrictions under Florida law. You can learn more about telemarketing requirements in the Sunshine State by visiting the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) website.

3) Identity Theft Crimes

There are a variety of ways a person’s identity can be stolen, ranging from online research to even digging through their trash. An identity thief can obtain credit card information, a social security number, a driver’s license number, or other information without a person’s consent and use this information to apply for a line of credit, file a fraudulent tax return, or collect earned wages in someone else’s name. If you have been accused of identity theft, the prosecution must prove that you used this information with unlawful intent. In some cases, a person is given consent to use personal information or a suspect is arrested in a case of mistaken identity.     

4) Business-Related Scams

According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), here are five of the “riskiest scams” involving businesses:

  • Job Opportunities: An applicant is offered a “too good to be true” job with a company offering high pay, remote work, and flexible hours. In order to get the job, the applicant must fill out employment paperwork that includes their personal information. Unfortunately, the job offer was not real and another entity now has their information. 
  • Online Buying Scams: A buyer purchases an item online from a seller offering a significantly cheaper price than usual, but the item either doesn’t arrive or an inferior product is sent in its place. 
  • Fixer Upper: A door-to-door solicitor offers repair work at an affordable price and collects payment to buy materials. They never return to perform the work, effectively disappearing by giving false information. 
  • Fake Checks: A business sends a check to a consumer but “accidentally” overpays. They request the consumer to wire the additional money back; however, it’s discovered at a later date by the bank that the check was fake.  
  • Fraudulent Loans: If a person qualifies for a loan, the loanee agrees to pay the additional charges to process the loan; however, the loanee never receives the loan from the fraudulent lending officer.   

5) Ponzi Schemes

Investment frauds like Ponzi schemes look great on paper because the investor is offered a high return with little risk of losing their money. Ponzi schemes involve unregistered investments with the SEC and lack documentation to show the investor how their money was invested. The scheme involves the orchestrator taking the new investor’s money to pay off previous investors while keeping the remaining funds.

6) Fraudulent Nonprofit Organizations 

Whether it’s a fake natural disaster fund, a bogus charity on a for-profit website, or a charity that is not government-approved, there are several ways a charity program’s organizer can be accused of charity fraud. Moreover, an organization may be considered credible, but if it’s discovered that the charity failed to devote much (if any) of their donations to their cause, it can also result in legal action. 

7) Medical Care Crimes

Healthcare and insurance fraud are common crimes. For example, a healthcare provider may perform unnecessary services or overbill their patients. In other insurance-related cases, a solicitor may obtain a person’s Medicare information for fraudulent use. If you are a healthcare provider who has been accused of healthcare fraud, you can experience excessive fines, potentially lose your license, or face incarceration if found guilty of fraud.  

8) Payroll Fraud

Any type of action that results in stealing cash through a businesses’ payroll system is considered payroll fraud. Examples include an employee requesting an advance on their pay and never paying the business back, or a bookkeeper or payroll staff reallocating funds from the company payroll into a direct deposit. 

Any of the above types of fraud cases are complex and can result in serious penalties. If you have been accused of fraud, speak with a criminal defense lawyer in Tampa.

For a free consultation with a criminal defense lawyer in Tampa, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation. 

Accused of Domestic Violence? Consider the Role of the Prosecution

If you have been accused of a crime like domestic violence, you should know that the burden is on the prosecution to prove that you were guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Considering that most domestic violence cases occur in the privacy of a home, these cases are challenging for prosecutors to prove. In this brief article, a domestic violence defense lawyer in Tampa with The Rickman Law Firm will discuss how the prosecution will try to prove that a defendant is guilty of a crime like domestic violence.

Is There Any Physical Evidence?

Although there may not be much physical evidence related to a domestic violence case, the prosecution will do their best to present any physical evidence that hurts the defendant’s case. Common pieces of physical evidence include photographs of injuries the victim sustained, as well as items or property damaged during the incident. Other forms of evidence could include text messages between the defendant and the alleged victim, social media content, or voice messages left by the defendant. 

Photos of abuse can be extremely impactful to a jury. Although “a picture is worth a thousand words,” in domestic violence cases, a picture alone may not provide the full story. An experienced domestic violence defense attorney in Tampa can assess any physical evidence presented by the prosecution and provide an alternative explanation that brings its relevance into question. 

Are There Any Witnesses?  

Although witnesses are crucial for any criminal case, they are especially important in domestic violence cases where physical evidence may be lacking. The prosecution will rely on witnesses to provide compelling testimony related to the incident. Common witnesses in domestic violence cases include:

  • Friends
  • Family Members (including children)
  • Neighbors
  • Police Officers
  • Other Bystanders
  • The Alleged Victim 

Whether the person under oath witnessed the incident, observed physical evidence related to the crime, or received a statement from the victim, the defendant’s legal counsel has a right to cross-examine any witnesses. An experienced attorney also has a firm understanding of the legal proceedings during both a trial and preliminary hearings. For example, if a witness did not testify in a preliminary hearing, they should not be authorized to make any statements at the trial. An experienced attorney can cross-examine any witness, challenge any inconsistencies in their statements, and ensure that the defendant is provided a fair trial.  

Consult a Criminal Defense Law Firm

Although the prosecution has many challenges in presenting evidence during a domestic violence case, a defendant should never assume that it will automatically result in a favorable outcome. Without an experienced domestic violence defense attorney in Tampa on your side, you are leaving your future to chance. If you have been accused of a serious crime like domestic violence, you require the services of an excellent criminal defense attorney that will work tirelessly on your case to ensure you obtain the best outcome. Contact Anthony Rickman of The Rickman Law Firm today.  

For a free consultation with a domestic violence defense lawyer in Tampa, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation. 

Aggravated Assault: What Could Be Considered a Deadly Weapon?

Florida law defines aggravated assault as a threat to do violence to another “with a deadly weapon without intent to kill” or “with an intent to commit a felony.” We’ve already covered assault with the intent to commit a felony in a previous article. Below, we discuss what can be considered a “deadly weapon” under Florida law. Unfortunately, the law doesn’t provide an exact definition, and there are a wide variety of items that can lead to an aggravated assault charge. If you have been accused of aggravated assault, it is in your best interest to consult an aggravated assault attorney in St. Petersburg who can work to have your charges reduced, dismissed, or dropped. 

Florida’s Interpretation of a Deadly Weapon

A “deadly weapon” is a weapon that can be used in a way that is likely to produce death or great bodily harm. As we’ve covered previously, Florida residents must use extreme caution when they fear that a situation could escalate into threats of violence. In these moments, a pocket knife, gun, or speeding car can be considered a deadly weapon — all have the potential to produce death or great bodily harm. However, Florida’s definition of a deadly weapon leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Here are a few unusual items that may lead to an aggravated assault charge in Florida: 

  • Rocks: In 2015, a man in Milton was sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in state prison for throwing rocks at the driver of a vehicle. While the man was charged with aggravated battery, the thrown rocks were considered a deadly weapon. 
  • Feminine Products: In 2017, a St. Petersburg woman was charged with aggravated assault after she threw a “wet white paper object” at a police officer, striking him in the shoulder. 
  • Alligators: In what can be described as a defining moment in Florida history, a man in Palm Beach was charged with assault with a deadly weapon in 2016 after he threw a 3 ft. long alligator through a Wendy’s drive-thru window. The offender was taken into custody and later released on bail. 

A Third-Degree Felony No Matter the Weapon 

Being charged with aggravated assault and being convicted of aggravated assault are two different things. Many items that are initially considered a deadly weapon don’t hold up under scrutiny. Despite this, law enforcement officers will happily charge individuals with aggravated assault and judges will regularly hand down convictions for assaults that involve weapons that are clearly not “deadly.” 

Aggravated assault is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. If you’ve been charged with aggravated assault after threatening someone with an unconventional item, you face the same penalties as an offender who used a gun, knife, or moving vehicle. An experienced attorney could mount an effective defense that includes arguing that the object in question is not a “deadly weapon,” among numerous other strategies. Contact Anthony Rickman, the best aggravated assault attorney in St. Petersburg, and take the first steps towards having your charges dropped, reduced, or dismissed. 

For a free consultation with an aggravated assault attorney in St. Petersburg, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation. 

Understanding the Legal Restrictions for Telemarketers in Florida

Telemarketing crimes are a common form of fraud. Typically, this type of fraud involves a solicitor calling a potential client and requesting that they act fast on an amazing once-in-a-lifetime offer. Of course, the offer is a way to deceive the consumer into providing their payment information over the phone. Florida has instituted several laws to help protect consumers from falling victim to this form of fraud, including the Florida Telemarketing Act. 

With new restrictions in place, telemarketing businesses could face criminal penalties unless they are mindful of recent changes to Florida law. If you have been accused of violating telemarketing laws in Florida, consult a fraud defense attorney in Tampa.  

What You Should Know About Florida Telemarketing Laws

If you own a telemarketing business in Florida, or any business that requires employees to solicit services over the phone, it goes without saying that you need to be aware of telemarketing laws in the Sunshine State. Even if you own a telemarketing business outside of Florida, you can still be held liable for breaking these laws if your phone calls are targeting Florida residents. 

Here is some more information on the requirements of the Florida Telemarketing Act:

  • Licensing: for starters, any company that engages in telemarketing practices needs to be licensed in Florida. In order to qualify your business, you need to obtain a license from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS).
  • Hours of Operation: telemarketing businesses are restricted from making telephone solicitation phone calls before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. Any phone calls made before or after these hours are unlawful. 
  • Introduction: the telemarketer must state their name, the company they represent, and the service they are offering within the first 30 seconds of the phone call. If the caller fails to provide the recipient with information in regard to the origin of their call, this is illegal. Moreover, it’s illegal for the telemarketing company to block their identification through a caller identification system.  
  • Other Requirements: a solicitor cannot provide credit card payment as the only form of payment. The solicitor must also provide the consumer with the resources they need to cancel their order at a later date. 
  • Exemptions: it’s important to note that the above requirements are strictly for non-exempt businesses. For example, churches, political campaigns, and charity organizations are all examples of entities exempt from these requirements.  
  • Phone Call Laws: Florida’s Telemarketing Act does not include any requirements beyond phone calls. In other words, there are no requirements within the Act that prohibits a company from sending a sales offer through a fax machine or another device.   

Consult a Federal Criminal Defense Attorney 

Telemarketing fraud is a serious charge that may be prosecuted on either the state or federal level. Although Florida has its own telemarketing laws, it’s not uncommon for the Federal Trade Commision (FTC) to investigate complaints for cases in which fraud was committed across state lines. Regardless, for telemarketing fraud crimes, it’s best to hire a fraud defense lawyer in Tampa who is experienced defending cases in both Florida and federal court. If you are facing fraud charges, speak with Anthony Rickman of the Rickman Law Firm today.  

For a free consultation with a fraud defense attorney in Tampa, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation. 

What Rights Do Convicted Felons Lose?

It goes without saying that being accused of a federal crime is a serious accusation. If convicted, offenders can face exorbitant fines and be imprisoned for the majority of their lives. However, a felony conviction can impact a person’s life long after they’ve left prison. Below, we discuss the rights that are forfeited when a felony conviction is handed down. These aren’t simple conveniences being taken away; they are civil liberties that define the American experience. If you or a loved one has been accused of a federal crime, it is imperative that you contact a criminal defense lawyer in Tampa who can fight to preserve your rights. 

Right to Vote

In the State of Florida, those convicted of a felony lose their right to vote while they are incarcerated. In years past, convicted felons lost the right to vote for life. However, on Jan. 8, 2019, Florida citizens voted in favor of Amendment 4, allowing convicted felons who were not convicted of murder or felony sex charges to vote once they’ve completed their prison sentences. But hopeful voters continue to face roadblocks as lawmakers passed S.B. 7066 preventing felons from voting until they pay off all court fees and fines before their sentences are completed. 

Right to Social Welfare Programs

Convicted felons often face massive fines that can halt any attempt to reintegrate into society. Upon leaving prison, most felons are without work or the means to support themselves. What’s worse is that they are automatically barred from social welfare programs, such as federal grants, public housing, and food stamps. While many states allow former felons with drug convictions to receive food stamps, Florida is one of only a handful that don’t — a decision that has been shown to increase recidivism among drug traffickers.  

Right to Keep and Bear Arms 

As stated on the website for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, “The Gun Control Act (GCA), codified at 18 U.S.C. § 922(g), makes it unlawful for certain categories of persons to ship, transport, receive, or possess firearms or ammunition.” Included in the lengthy list provided are those “convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.” Possession of a firearm by a former felon is a felony itself, punishable by a minimum-mandatory prison sentence of three years. While former felons can have their rights restored by the Office of Executive Clemency, it’s a process that involves numerous hoops to jump through and can take years to finalize. To learn more about this process and having a felony conviction expunged or removed from your record, consult a criminal defense lawyer in Tampa from the Rickman Law Firm. 

Protect Your Rights 

Removal of the above rights is just one consequence of a felony conviction. Despite time served, a person can still be barred from financial aid, traveling abroad, and employment opportunities. This is simply an extended punishment that makes life unbearable for many convicted felons in the State of Florida. If you have been accused of a felony, don’t jeopardize your rights through inaction. Contact the federal criminal defense law attorneys in Tampa from The Rickman Law Firm. 

For a free consultation with one of our federal criminal defense law attorneys in Tampa, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation. 

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