Certain acts or omissions in the mortgage lending process are punishable as mortgage fraud felonies in Florida, such as:
- Making a material misrepresentation, misstatement, or omission of fact during the mortgage lending process when the offender intended for the misrepresentation, misstatement, or omission to be relied upon by a lender or borrower, or any other party involved in the mortgage lending process
- Using or facilitating the use of a material misstatement, misrepresentation, or omission of facts during the lending process
- Knowingly receiving funds or proceeds of a mortgage loan that resulted from a material misstatement, misrepresentation, or omission
- Filing a mortgage lending document which contains a material misstatement, misrepresentation, or omission
Mortgage fraud is a serious offense that may be punished as a 2nd degree or 3rd degree felony, depending on the loan value stated in the documents used in the mortgage lending process.
Section 817.568 of the Florida Statutes punishes anyone who uses or possesses the personal identification information of another person, without being authorized or allowed to do so, and with the intent to defraud another. Also known as identity theft, this offense may be punished as a 1st or 2nd degree felony depending on the value of the property or economic gain obtained or the number of identities used without being allowed to do so.
Other acts of identity theft that are punished in Florida include:
- Obtaining property by false personation (Sec. 817.02)
- Using a minor’s personal identifying information [Sec. 817.568(6)]
- Using a deceased person’s personal identification information [Sec. 817.568(8)]
- Using or possessing counterfeit or fictitious personal identification information [Sec. 817.568(9)]
The penalties for identity theft are severe, often involving jail time of up to 40 years, a fine of up to $15,000, probation, and restitution.
Issuing or giving worthless checks, drafts, and debit card orders while knowing that the account does not have sufficient funds to pay the check or instrument upon presentation is punished as check fraud under Section 832.05 in Florida.
An important element of this offense is the offender’s knowledge that the maker or drawer of the check or instrument does not have enough funds to make good the check at the time the check was issued or used in a payment transaction. Thus, a good defense against this charge is that the payee or the person receiving the check had known or was notified of the account’s insufficiency before the check was issued or received. Payment of a dishonored check, however, is not a good defense in check fraud.
Obtaining property or services in exchange for worthless checks is also check fraud. The penalty for check fraud will depend on the value of the check.
Insurance fraud is punished under Florida Statute Section 817.234. It is committed by:
- Submitting a claim that is based on a false, exaggerated, or deliberate injury or loss
- Submitting false or misleading information to an insurer on a claim or application for an insurance policy
The penalty for insurance fraud will depend on the amount or value of the claim. If you are charged with insurance fraud, you may be able to raise appropriate defenses such as:
- Your lack of intent to deceive or defraud
- The claim or information provided is not false or fraudulent
- Mistake of fact
Workers Compensation Fraud
This crime is committed when a defendant knowingly files false or misleading information with the intent to defraud, deceive, or injure an employer, employee, self-insured program, or insurance carrier. A licensed physician, any entity licensed to operate a hospital, or an attorney who participates in this fraudulent practice may also be charged with workers compensation fraud, which is a 3rd degree felony under Section 440.105.
The Reemployment Assistance fraud or unemployment fraud is a 3rd degree felony that is committed when a person knowingly makes a false statement or knowingly fails to disclose a material fact for the purpose of obtaining reemployment benefits or obtaining an increased amount of benefits. Examples of unemployment fraud are:
- Not reporting wages that you may have earned
- Under-reporting wages
- Misrepresenting the real reason for job separation
Fraud is a serious crime that can lead to imprisonment and heavy fines. It’s absolutely important to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney at the earliest opportunity. Your lawyer can examine the details of the charge, weigh the evidence against you, and determine the appropriate fraud defense strategy in your case. Your attorney should also be prepared to defend you in court and if applicable, negotiate with the prosecution for a reduction of the charges.
If you are facing fraud charges in Florida, contact the Law Offices of Keith Bregoff, PA at (772) 492-8967. Attorney Bregoff is a former lead felony state prosecutor with over 2 decades of litigation experience, helping clients in a wide range of fraud charges.