Fraud is a purposeful perversion or twisting of the truth, or a false misrepresentation of a matter of fact. When someone commits fraud, he is undertaking a dishonest act, which is to his advantage. Fraud can be committed not only by fact, but by concealing what should have been disclosed, by words, conduct and by misleading or false allegations, all of which are meant to deceive someone else.
Elements of Fraud
Fraud is shown when a person's actions include five elements: Knowledge that the statement he made was untrue; a false statement of material fact; injury to someone as a result; justifiable confidence by the victim on the statement that the person made; and an intention on the defendant's part to dupe the victim. When fraud is committed and the perpetrator of fraud is caught, he can be in deep trouble.
If, for example, you are found guilty of tax fraud, you could face a jail sentence in a federal prison. You will have to pay the taxes that you didn't originally pay and you will have to pay interest and fines on top of that. The person who engages in tax fraud can face criminal punishment as well as civil penalties.
Food Stamp Fraud
When found guilty of good stamp fraud, the person is disqualified from the program. First offenders are barred for a year; a second-time offender is barred for two years, and a third-time offender is barred forever. If you are found guilty of trafficking in food stamps or using a false identity, your punishment will be harsher.
Read More: Penalties for Food Stamp Fraud
Public Assistance Fraud
Those found guilty of public assistance fraud can be fined, placed in jail, or both. Examples of fraud when you are on public assistance include making misleading or false statements to the government department that you are on deadline with; not reporting your true income or not reporting your income on a timely basis; using benefits that belong to someone else in your household; and/or selling or trading food stamps. If found are guilty of public assistance fraud, you can lose your benefits for 10 years or up to a lifetime, and you will be ordered to repay the benefits
Corporate fraud occurs when fraudulent schemes are carried out, which are complex and large in scope and have a terrible outcome for investors, employees, lenders, communities and financial markets. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, those committing corporate fraud often do not face the same punishment as those committing other types of fraud. When corporate fraud takes place, the penalty should be commensurate with the social costs of the crime, notes JSTOR. However, that is often not the case. When sanctions are imposed on a company, they are often much less than the damage that was the result of the fraud. However, individuals can be sent to prison, and certainly have been, for committing corporate fraud, and faced 10 to 20 years of incarceration.
If interstate fraud is committed, the defendant will face prosecution by the federal government. Common federal fraud charges include wire and mail frauds, according to Law.jrank.org. Fraudulent registering aliens is a misdemeanor under federal law and banking fraud is subject to federal prosecution. When a fraudulent scheme such as claiming to know how to cure cancer is committed, it warrants a more severe punishment than if the scheme coincidentally, and not purposely, injured a person who is vulnerable.
- Free Advice: White Collar Crimes
- Law Library - American Law and Legal Information: Fraud
- Neighborhood Legal Services, Inc: Public Assistance/Food Stamp Fraud
- IRS.gov: What is Corporate Fraud?
- Michigan Department of Human Services: Welfare Fraud and Recoupment
- North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services: Public Assistance Fraud
Cindi Pearce is a graduate of Ohio University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in journalism. She completed both the undergraduate and graduate courses offered by the Institute of Children’s Literature. Pearce has been writing professionally for over 30 years.