Texas recognizes several different types of fraud charges as crimes. Each type of criminal fraud charge comes with its own set of elements that the prosecution must prove. However, most fraud cases involve a defendant making willful misrepresentation with the intent to obtain property or money falsely. Fraud can include small amounts of money, like using another person’s debit card to pay for gas without his or her permission. Other fraud cases involve millions of dollars, such as fraudulent healthcare pyramid schemes. We will discuss some of the most common types of fraud charges in Texas below.
The crime of forgery involves altering a document or writing to make it appear to be:
- Authorized by another person
- Executed at a different time or place, or
- A copy of an original when there is no original.
Prosecutors need to prove that the defendant intended to defraud or harm another person when he or she created the forged document. In most cases, the crime of forgery is considered a Class A misdemeanor and Carries less than a year of jail time. However, prosecutors can bring felony forgery charges when the forged document is held out to be a:
- Last will and testament
- A security instrument
- A check
- A credit card
Check fraud is also a crime in Texas. Check fraud occurs when someone steals or receives a stolen check from someone else with the intent to use it, sell it, or transfer it. In most cases, someone will take another person’s checkbook and try to issue a check without the bank account owner’s permission. In other cases, a defendant will write a check knowing that the bank account owner does not have enough funds for full payment. In Texas, check fraud is typically charged as a misdemeanor crime.
Vehicle fraud occurs when someone takes control requires a motor vehicle for the purposes of:
- Transferring the vehicle to a third party knowing the vehicle is subject to a security interest or lien, or
- Transferring a vehicle with intent to defraud the owner of the vehicle.
Prosecutors typically charge vehicle fraud as a felony-level crime, and the penalties depend on the value of the motor vehicle involved.
Identity theft has become more common in recent years. Texas defines identity theft broadly, and the crime includes the fraudulent use or possession of another person’s identifying information. Identifying information includes the following:
- Date of birth
- Routing number or financial account number
- Social Security number
- Other government ID number
In most cases, identity theft involves one person using another person’s identifying information to obtain goods, services, or transfer money without the victim’s consent. The penalties faced by a defendant convicted of identity fraud depend on how many times the defendant used the person’s information. Specifically, the penalty for identity theft depends on how often the defendant attained, possessed, used, or transferred another person’s identifying information.
Credit Card Fraud
Credit card fraud involves an attempt to obtain a fraudulent benefit by using or appropriating another person’s credit card. All of the following types of activities are considered credit card fraud in Texas:
- Using a fictitious credit card
- Using a credit card knowing it’s been issued in someone else’s name
- Using a credit card knowing that it has been canceled
- Stealing a credit card
- Using a stolen credit card
- Buying a credit card from a person who is not the cardholder
- Possessing two or more blank credit cards
In some cases, credit card fraud involves a person who is authorized to accept credit cards, such as a retail merchant. Even though a person may be authorized to accept credit cards, he or she makes up a forged or fraudulent credit card in an attempt to defraud the cardholder or issuer. Prosecutors typically bring credit card fraud charges as third-degree felonies in Texas that carry a penalty of over a year in jail.
Insurance fraud cases can involve nearly any insurance type, including property insurance, medical insurance, and car insurance. Insurance fraud occurs when the policy owner tries to defraud the insurance company to receive payment from the insurance company. Insurance fraud can also involve a doctor who commits fraud to collect insurance proceeds for services he or she never rendered to the patient.
The penalties for insurance fraud in Texas depend on the value of the fraudulent claims. Convicted defendants face jail time, fines, and a Texas court may require them to pay court cost, restitution, and attorney’s fees to the affected insurer.
The Penalties for Fraud Charges in Texas
The penalties for fraud in Texas depend on the type of fraud charge and the stolen property or service value. For example, if the defendant stole less than $100, he or she will face Class C misdemeanor charges with no jail time and a fine of up to $500. The penalties increase as the property value increases. When a defendant is convicted of stealing over $300,000, he or she will be charged with a first-degree felony, which carries a jail sentence between 5 and 99 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
Contact a Fort Worth Fraud Lawyer Today
Have you been charged with fraud in Fort Worth, Texas? If so, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side. Before you decide to plead guilty to a fraud charge or accepting a plea deal, we recommend talking to attorney Steven Jumes. An experienced criminal defense lawyer, he is here to fight for your rights and achieve the best possible outcome in your case. Contact the Fort Worth criminal defense law firm of Law Offices of Steven Jumes today to schedule your initial consultation.