Economic Crimes

Often called "white collar crimes" or "financial crimes," cover a wide range of criminal offenses that involve illegally obtaining money or property through deception.  The growth of the internet and the greater use of credit cards and debit cards has expanded the opportunities to commit this crime, and increased prosecution has corresponded with this.

Economic crime prosecutions are often complex. An attorney representing a person facing these charges should have experience, and be ready and willing to tackle these complicated issues.

West Palm Beach Economic Crimes Lawyer

If you are accused of fraud, embezzlement, identity theft or any other type of economic crime in Palm Beach, Broward or Miami-Dade County, you will have dedicated representation when you call Meltzer & Bell, P.A.. We will delve into these often complex cases and help build the strongest defense possible for you.

With Meltzer & Bell, P.A., you will have an experienced West Palm Beach economic crimes lawyer who handles all matters. The team of attorneys at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. work together to develop the strongest defense possible in your case. Our partners are available to you 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Call us today at (561) 557-8686 to set up a free consultation.

We are based in West Palm Beach, and represent clients throughout the area, including in Boynton Beach, Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens, Juno Beach, Wellington, Belle Glade, Royal Palm Beach, Greenacres and Lake Worth.

South Florida Financial Crimes Overview

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Types of Economic Crimes Under Florida Law

Credit Card and Debit Card Fraud: It is a crime to obtain money, goods, services or anything else of value using a credit card or debit card that has been forged, stolen, used without the holder's consent, expired or revoked(Florida Statutes Annotated § 817.61). It is a first degree misdemeanor unless the card was used to obtain more than $100 worth or is used more than twice within six months, at which point it becomes a third degree felony.

Trafficking in stolen credit cards, which means producing forged credit cards or selling stolen cards or card numbers, is a second degree felony (Florida Statutes Annotated § 817.611).

Insurance Fraud: Insurance fraud charges mean the accused is alleged to have knowingly submitted false, incomplete or misleading information to an insurer with the intent to injure, defraud or deceive the company (Florida Statutes Annotated § 817.234). It can include any type of insurance, including property insurance, life insurance, auto insurance and health insurance.

The accused may be the insured, or could be a doctor or other health care provider submitting claims. Insurance fraud is usually a felony of the third degree, but could be a second degree felony under certain circumstances.

Mortgage Fraud: A person commits mortgage fraud in Florida if the person makes any material misstatement or misrepresentation on an application for a mortgage (Florida Statutes Annotated § 817.545). Lying about jobs or income on a mortgage application can be mortgage fraud. Mortgage fraud is a third degree felony, and may be upgraded to a second degree felony if the offense involved more than $100,000.

False Personation: It is a crime to falsely represent oneself as another person in order to obtain property, whether in an identity theft situation or any other (Florida Statutes Annotated § 817.02). Charges vary depending on the amount obtained, and can range from a second degree misdemeanor all the way up to a first degree felony.

Criminal Use of Personal Information: It is a felony to use a person's personal indentifying information without their consent to fraudulent obtain any benefit, including that person's name, social security number, bank account number, driver's license number or any other information (Florida Statutes Annotated § 817.568).

If the benefit was worth more than $100,000 or involved 30 or more victims, it is a first degree felony with a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison. If worth more than $50,000 or involving 20 to 29 victims, it is a first degree felony with a minimum five years in prison. If worth $5,000 or more or 10 to 19 victims, it is a second degree felony. Any other charges are a third degree felony.

Embezzlement: Embezzlement involves the theft of property or money that was entrusted to the accused. It could be funds, equipment or any other property belonging to an employer. It could also involve funds or property that the accused managed for a nonprofit, club, homeowners association or other organization.

Embezzlement is treated the same way as theft under Florida Statutes Annotated § 812.014. The higher the value of the property that prosecutors can prove was embezzled, the worse the punishment. Charges can range from a second degree misdemeanor to a felony of the first degree.

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Punishment for White Collar Offenses in Palm Beach County

If convicted, the punishment will depend on the grading of the offense. Many offenses are graded according to how much prosecutors can prove was fraudulently or illegally obtained.

  • First Degree Felony: Up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
  • Second Degree Felony: Up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
  • Third Degree Felony: Up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000
  • First Degree Misdemeanor: Up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000
  • Second Degree Misdemeanor: Up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500

In many case, a person convicted will also be required to pay restitution to the victims.

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Financial Crimes Resources for South Florida

Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office Financial Crimes Unit: This agency investigates economic crime allegations in Palm Beach County.

Broward County Sheriff's Office Economic Crimes Unit: Officers in the BSO Economic Crimes Unit investigate fraud, scams and other white collar crimes in Broward County.

Miami-Dade Police Department Economic Crimes Bureau: This department conducts investigations into criminal allegations of any financial crimes in Miami-Dade County.

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Finding a White Collar Defense Attorney in Palm Beach County

If you face accusations of any kind of economic crime in Palm Beach County, Broward County or Miami-Dade County, your best decision would be to obtain the services of a dedicated defense attorney. Contact a West Palm Beach economic crimes lawyer from Meltzer & Bell, P.A.. We will fight for your rights. Call us today at (561) 557-8686 to set up a free consultation.

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