Consumer fraud, defined as any illicit activity that involves deceit against a purchaser and results in financial loss or physical harm, is a very common crime in the United States.
Here are some interesting facts about consumer fraud:
- Americans are far more likely to have their identity stolen (791 million) than anyone else. France came in second place at a distant 85 million.
- 40% of people reporting losing money to fraud are between the ages of 20 and 29 years old. However, when people over age 70 report a loss, their median is much higher ($1,092 vs $400).
- Cryptojacking attacks, in which coin miners steal resources and increase a user’s vulnerability, has exploded by 8,500% in 2017 alone.
Examples of Consumer Fraud
The top three categories of consumer fraud are:
- Debt Collection: This includes harassing over a debt, lying about an amount due, falsely claiming someone will be sued or arrested, collecting interest or fees that were not in the original contract or allowed by law, depositing a post-dated check early, and threatening to take (or actually taking) property unless done legally.
- Identity Theft: This includes using anyone’s (including a child’s or senior’s) social security number for obtaining government benefits, opening bank or credit card accounts, applying for a loan, renting a place to live, creating social media accounts, and filing taxes. It also includes stealing a Medicare ID, health insurance number, names, photos, and other personal information.
- Imposter Scams: This happens when someone contacts a person under false pretenses and asks for money. It includes calls from anyone pretending to be a family member, friend, an online dating contact, a tech support person, the IRS, or anyone else.
Even though the above are the top three categories of consumer fraud, there are many other ways consumer fraud is committed:
- Publishing false advertisements
- Selling misrepresented real estate and automobiles
- Overbilling or applying false fees
- Pressuring others to invest in “get rich quick” schemes
- Marketing counterfeit products or selling inferior products at excessive prices
- Tampering with foods, medicines, cosmetics, and other consumer items
- Giving false loan promises
- Offering phony business employment opportunities
- Collecting donations for fictitious charities
- And many others
How a Fraud Attorney Can Help Your Consumer Fraud Case
There is a wide range of sentences for committing consumer fraud, and many of them are not necessarily fair to either the victims or the perpetrators of fraud. They can range from first-degree misdemeanors (a stolen value of less than $1,000) with a penalty of 180 jail days and a $1,000 fine up to a first-degree felony (a stolen value of $1.5 million or more) with a penalty of 3-11 years in jail and fines up to $20,000.
Determining a sentence is a complex process that involves many factors, including the age of the victim, if the victim is disabled or an active-duty member of the military (or their spouse) when the fraud took place, and how the item, money, or identity was stolen.
Because of the many complications that can arise due to so many intricate details, navigating the court system is not easily done on one’s own. That’s why it’s so important to contact a practiced fraud attorney. If you do, you’ll find yourself getting the best possible outcome to your fraud case.