Under Michigan law, crimes of fraud are those in which the accused used some form of deception, dishonesty or misrepresentation in order to wrongly obtain another person’s money or property. Aside from this common thread and the absence of actual or threatened violence in their commission, however, the specific facts and elements of fraud crimes and the penalties for those convicted of violations can vary greatly.
You may commit a fraud crime by obtaining a financial benefit through false statements to the provider of that benefit. For example, say you falsify an application for a mortgage loan by overstating your income or lying about your debts – you can be charged with mortgage fraud. File a false insurance claim for fictitious injuries or property damage and you could be charged with insurance fraud.
The scale of shoplifting, known in most states as retail theft, borders on the epidemic. The National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP) estimates that more than $13 billion is stolen from merchants every year – that’s nearly $35 million worth of goods every day. Although nearly a quarter of those apprehended are juveniles, many continue to shoplift as adults. NASP studies also show that most shoplifters don’t commit other crimes, and that only a small percentage are “professionals” (for example, those who steal to support a drug habit).
You might be surprised to know that in Michigan shoplifting is actually considered a type of fraud. Shoplifting can include acts such as physically removing merchandise from a store without paying for it or switching the price tags on two items in a mall clothing store in order to get an improper “discount”. Or, you may have lied to a store clerk in order to get a refund for an item you didn’t buy there. In either case, you could be facing a retail fraud charge.
Knowledgeable and Aggressive Legal Representation
Though some argue that fraud-related crimes – at least when committed against companies and institutions – are really “victimless” since the loss is often covered by insurance or by passing along the cost to customers, Michigan law treats them as serious offenses. A conviction on fraud charges involving even a relatively small amount of property can result in a permanent criminal record that can have lifelong consequences. You may be ineligible for certain types of employment and may even be unable to obtain a student loan.
However, with the help of an experienced and aggressive attorney it may be possible to negotiate a reduced sentence or even avoid the charges altogether. This is especially true if it’s your first offense and you’re willing and able to return the money or property involved (called “restitution”). If you or a loved one are facing fraud charges in Macomb County, don’t delay – call Lucido & Manzella P.C. today at (586) 842-0198.