Florida law prohibits a number of different fraudulent activities, and the penalties associated with fraud offenses range from simple misdemeanors to felony criminal offenses. In addition, in some cases, the fraudulent activity is also illegal pursuant to federal law, and thus, it is possible to face penalties at both the state and the federal level.
At the most general level, fraud is considered an offense where one takes advantage of another, usually for their own personal financial gain, through the use of trickery or deceit. In Florida, some specific fraud offenses include:
- Fraudulent Theft
– in this instance, an offender steals the property of another through fraud or willful misrepresentation. Fraudulent theft can also be committed when someone falsely impersonates or represents another in order to defraud that person of property. The offense is typically considered a felony, the degree of which depends on the amount or value of the property
- Mortgage or Real Estate Fraud
– in this instance, an offender usually obtains a mortgage by intentionally or knowingly using false representations with intent to defraud. Mortgage or real estate fraud offenses are also typically considered felonies, the degree of which also depends on the facts and circumstances of the case.
- Check or Bank Fraud – check fraud occurs when an offender writes or issues a check, money order, or other document connected to a bank knowing that there are insufficient funds in the account at the time of the transaction. Check fraud can also occur when an offender attempts to deposit or cash a check of another with the intent to defraud. Depending on the facts and circumstances of the case, the offense can either be considered a misdemeanor or a felony.
- Money Laundering – money laundering typically occurs when an offender knowingly or intentionally conducts transactions with or transports money when the money was earned through an illegal enterprise. Money laundering is usually considered a felony offense.
- Identity Theft – in this instance, the fraud can occur when an offender intentionally or willfully, and without consent, fraudulently uses, the identification of another. Identity theft is usually considered a felony offense, the level of which depends on the amount of money or property involved in the offense.
- Credit Card Fraud – credit card fraud can occur when an offender knowingly uses a stolen or forged credit card with intent to defraud. Depending on the facts and circumstances of the case, the offense can be considered either a misdemeanor or a felony.
- Unemployment Compensation Fraud – in this instance, an offender knowingly collects unemployment benefits based on inaccurate or false information that was intentionally provided at the time the claim was filed. In most cases, this offense is considered a felony.
- Welfare Fraud – welfare fraud occurs when an offender receives state or federal public assistance, benefits, or services through fraud or misrepresentation. Welfare fraud can be considered a misdemeanor or a felony in Florida, depending on the amount of benefits or value of services obtained or received.