Financial and Fraud Crimes
Financial and fraud related crimes refers to any criminal activity in which a person intentionally defrauds another person or entity for monetary or personal gain. It also includes crimes against property, usually involving the transfer of ownership without permission, for one’s own personal benefit or gain.
Here in Michigan, financial and fraud crimes can refer to a number of different types of criminal activity within this spectrum, including but not limited to:
- Check Fraud,
- Credit card fraud (also known as Cancelled / Revoked financial transaction device),
- Healthcare fraud,
- Insurance Fraud,
- Money Laundering,
- Organized Retail Crime,
- Retail Fraud / Shoplifting, and
- Tax Evasion.
These crimes are not all considered to be, under Michigan law, the same. Each one is viewed as different and, if convicted, will result in a different potential punishment. The following is an overview of the more common forms of financial and fraud related crimes, with links to detailed information about each one:
Check fraud refers to any type of criminal activity involving the writing of bad checks. This includes writing checks for amounts that the writer knows are not available in the account, writing checks from accounts that no longer exist and “check kiting.” The penalties will depend on the amount that the check was written for, but in some cases could result in up to two years in prison. For more information, please read this. Bad checks can also be charged as Uttering and Publishing. U & P is a felony that can be punished by up to 14 years in prison.
Embezzlement refers to an employee stealing money that they have legal access to as a result of their job, but that doesn’t belong to them because it is the property of their employer. Embezzlement is a felony under Michigan law, and the punishment is prison time. However the length of the sentence is affected by the amount embezzled. For more information, please read this.
Extortion in Michigan usually means using threats of future harm in order to get someone to pay out money. This can refer to blackmail, or to a “shakedown”, where someone is required to pay in order to avoid harm to either themselves or loved ones, having their property damaged, or having their intimate secrets revealed in an embarrassing way. Extortion is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison, with the possibility of substantial fines. For more information, please read this.
Healthcare fraud refers to knowingly executing a plan to defraud a health care benefit program, or to falsely obtain property from a health care benefit program. This often happens when medical professionals submits claims for financial reimbursement of services they billed for but did not provide. This can be either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending upon one’s involvement, and the amount of money falsely claimed. For more information, please read this.
Insurance fraud refers to a person intentionally deceiving an insurance company in order to receive money that they are not entitled to. This usually includes destruction of a house, car or business in order to claim the insurance money. Here in the Great Lakes State, this is a felony punishable by up to four years in prison, and possible fines of up $50,000. For more information, please read this.
Michigan Health Care False Claims Act
This particular law makes it illegal for a person to submit a false claim to a health care insurer in order to receive benefits that they are not entitled to. They are also forbidden from making claims for medically unnecessary procedures, concealing information or providing false information that could affect their medical benefits. This is a four year felony under Michigan law, and can result in very substantial fines. For more information, please read this.
Credit Card Fraud
Use of a cancelled or revoked transaction device, more commonly known as credit card fraud, refers to a person’s intent to defraud someone else by using a credit card that has been cancelled or revoked. This is a misdemeanor, however the possible fines and jail time are determined by the value of the property that was purchased with the cancelled credit card. For more information, please read this.
Organized Retail Crime
Organized retail crimes refer to a person stealing items from merchants for the explicit purpose of reselling them for profit. This is often a group effort that is coordinated, with specific items that are targeted due to their high potential for resale. Under Michigan law, this is a five year felony. For more information, please read this. Additional charges that might be filed in a case like this include conspiracy and/or criminal enterprise.
Retail Fraud / Shoplifting
Retail fraud is more commonly known as shoplifting, a crime that refers to stealing items from a store or merchant. This crime is prosecuted as first, second or third degree retail fraud, with each degree depending on the amount of the stolen item. While second and third degree retail fraud are misdemeanors, first degree retail fraud is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. For more information, please read this.
Tax fraud, also known as tax evasion, refers to the crime of not paying the taxes that one legally owes to the government. This can mean a wide range of things, from failure to file an income tax return, filing false information on your tax return, or stashing money in offshore accounts in order to avoid paying taxes on that income. Most forms of tax fraud are felonies under state law, and can result in very serious penalties upon conviction. For more information, please read this.
In addition to state charges, income tax evasion is a federal crime that could send you to federal prison for a very long time.