Washington DC Fraud Lawyer | Fraud Attorney in DC | David Benowitz

Washington DC Fraud Lawyer | Fraud Attorney in DC | David Benowitz

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Fraud offenses cover a wide range of activity,
from something relatively simple like issuing a bad check or minor credit card fraud, to
more sophisticated wire, mail, or securities fraud charges. In a fraud case the government
has to prove that you lied or misrepresented something with the intent to deceive, and
that the lie or misrepresentation caused legal or financial injury to someone else. In many
situations, the big question the government has to deal with is whether it can prove that
someone had the criminal intent necessary to get a conviction. Bankruptcy fraud occurs usually when a person
or business filing for bankruptcy lies, produces false documents, or otherwise tries to hide
financial assets, typically with the objective of preserving such assets from the bankruptcy
process. However, as with all criminal investigations, many of the individuals who are investigated,
accused, and charged with bankruptcy fraud are not the guilty perpetrators the federal
agencies make them out to be. Mortgage fraud is a new focus of federal agencies,
one that has attracted a lot of attention since the housing market crash and the resulting
economic crisis. While before the crash, loan origination fraud was more prevalent, since
the crash the number of loan originations has substantially decreased as a result of
better underwriting standards, while the number of foreclosures, delinquencies, and underwater
mortgages has skyrocketed. This has led to a decrease in this type of fraud investigation.
However, the market crash has given rise to mortgage fraud schemes that target distressed
homeowners who are already on the brink of losing their home. The FBI’s Financial Institution Fraud Unit
(FIFU) investigates different types of mortgage fraud, such as foreclosure rescue schemes,
loan modification schemes, illegal property flipping, equity skimming, and “silent” second
mortgages. In recent years, following the uproar that
occurred after huge white collar scandals like Worldcom and Enron came to light, Congress
adjusted the Sentencing Guidelines to increase the amounts of time that people spend in prison
if they are convicted of a fraud offense. Now, judges don’t have to follow the Guidelines,
but it requires a lot of hard work, knowledge, and skill to convince a judge to give someone
less time than the Guidelines prescribe. There are a few key factors that drive the
potential sentence in a fraud case. One key factor is called the “loss amount,” which
is defined in Section 2B1.1 of the Guidelines. The Guidelines indicate that this means the
reasonably foreseeable financial loss, not the actual money people lost or those convicted
made. This definition can result in loss amounts that are much greater than the money actually
involved in the offense. There are several other characteristics of
the offense that the Guidelines contemplate that can increase the Offense Level. They
include the number of victims involved, whether sophisticated means were used, if the person
convicted was in a position of trust, and others.

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