The Many Forms of Fraud

By Lowry Law Firm | Posted on November 20, 2015

The term “fraud” is a very broad one, when it comes to criminal law. Florida’s criminal code contains a wide variety of separate fraud offenses. Many of these offenses are not the types of crimes that typically come to mind when one thinks of the word “fraud.”

Among Florida’s fraud offenses are the following:

Obtaining Property by False Personation

One of the most common fraud offenses in Florida is obtaining property by false personation, which is criminalized under Florida Statute 817.02. This offense occurs when someone falsely impersonates someone else, and while doing so, either a) receives property intended for the person who he or she is impersonating, or b) takes property from any person, and in doing so, harms the credit rating or credit history of any person, or otherwise does them harm.

The punishment for obtaining property by false personation is the same as the punishment for larceny. Also, in addition to the prison time and/or fines that an offender may incur, he or she may also be required to pay restitution to the victim, such as paying the victim’s attorney’s fees, and/or paying for the cost of restoring the victim’s credit standing.

The Florida Communications Fraud Act

The Florida legislature passed the Communications Fraud Act in order to prevent “schemes to defraud” that utilize communications technology. (such as wire, radio, electromagnetic, and mail technology). This offense is criminalized under Florida Statute 817.034.

Communications fraud takes place when someone takes part in a scheme to defraud, and attempts to obtain property from another person by communicating with him or her. An offender can be charged with a felony or a misdemeanor for each act of communication, depending on the amount of the value of the property that the offender was attempting to obtain.

Burning to Defraud the Insurer

This offense is just what it sounds like – setting fire to an object (or causing it to be burned), when the object is insured against loss or damage by fire. This offense, laid out in Florida Statute 817.233, is a third degree felony.

The person who burns the object (or causes it to be burned) must have the intention of injuring or defrauding the insurer. However, he or she does not need to be the person who would receive the insurance money, nor does he or she need to be the object’s owner.

Fraudulent Obtaining of Property by Gaming

This offense occurs when someone uses a game or device (such as three-card monte, a card game, “pretensions to fortune telling,” or sleight of hand) to fraudulently obtain the property of another. The statute that criminalizes fraudulent obtaining of property by gaming is Florida Statute 817.28. As with the crime of obtaining property by false personation, this offense is punished the same way as larceny.

When You’re Facing Fraud Charges

Regardless of the type of fraud offense, if you or someone you know has been charged with fraud, it can be crucially important to speak to an attorney. If you are in the Fort Lauderdale area, you can contact the office of experienced criminal lawyer Mark S. Lowry today.