There are many types of Fraud charges in North Carolina. Fraud is a broad term that encompasses a range of crimes from Misdemeanors to Felonies and even Federal charges. Fraud can be classified as both a part of a scheme to deceptively obtaine drugs from a pharmacy, or perhaps to gain unlawful benefits from the Government. The common theme in Fraud charges is that the Defendant is alleged to have engaged in some sort of deception to secure some sort of unfair or unlawful gain. With the complexities of a fraud charge, it’s important to hire a Raleigh fraud lawyer with vast experience to represent you.
Some examples of Misdemeanor Fraud are the Possession or Manufacture of Fake ID’s, Defrauding an Innkeeper, Misuse of the 911 System, and Obtaining Property through Worthless Checks. Felony Fraud charges are wider ranging and can involve mandatory minimum prison sentences. Some examples of Felony Fraud Charges are Credit Card Fraud, Welfare Fraud, Medicaid and HealthCare Fraud and other types of charges often referred to as White Collar Crimes. White Collar Crimes can include charges like Bank Fraud, Wire Fraud, Financial Embezzlement, and many other types of crimes that could occur in the course of a business setting.
The Scharff Law Firm has experience defending against all types of Fraud allegations. We know that the quicker you hire a fraud defense attorney, the more likely you are to position yourself to avoid criminal charges or to earn a dismissal in the courtroom. Fraud charges often involve some sort of restitution requirement and we know how to use that as a way of leveraging your case to gain a favorable outcome. Prosecutors will oftentimes be more interested in restitution than in a criminal conviction or a jail sentence. During negotiations of this type, we will strive to protect your interests and your freedom, by being creative in regards to alternative sentencing possibilities. Getting in touch with the appropriate authorities at an early point in their investigation against you is of the utmost importance. If you’ve been contacted by law enforcement in relation to some sort of criminal investigation involving Fraud, don’t speak with them unless you’ve retained a Raleigh, NC fraud attorney to assist you in the process.
This page will address some of the more common types of Fraud Charges that we deal with at the Scharff Law Firm, but it is not to be used as a comprehensive list of every type of Fraud Charge in North Carolina.
Misdemeanor Fraud Charges
Possession or manufacture of certain fraudulent forms of identification. (NCGS § 14-100.1)
It is unlawful for any person to knowingly possess or manufacture a false or fraudulent form of identification as defined in this section for the purpose of deception, fraud, or other criminal conduct. These types of identifiacation include:
- An ID card containing a picture, issued by any department, agency, or subdivision of the State of North Carolina, the federal government, or any other state.
- A military identification card containing a picture.
- A passport.
- An alien registration card containing a picture.
- A violation of this section shall be punished as a Class 1 misdemeanor.
What it’s Really Saying:
Using a fake ID is a charge that the Scharff Law Firm deals with in regards to many local college students. It gives our client’s access to a variety of establishments that they aren’t usually allowed to enter unless they are 21 years old. Even using your older friend’s ID with their blessing, could result in a criminal charge.
Defrauding innkeeper or campground owner. (NCGS § 14-110)
No person shall, with intent to defraud, obtain food, lodging, or other accommodations at a hotel, inn, boardinghouse, eating house, or campground. Whoever violates this section shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor. Obtaining such lodging, food, or other accommodation by false pretense, or by false or fictitious show of pretense of baggage or other property, or absconding without paying or offering to pay therefor, or surreptitiously removing or attempting to remove such baggage, shall be prima facie evidence of such fraudulent intent, but this section shall not apply where there has been an agreement in writing for delay in such payment.
What it’s Really Saying:
This is another type of behavior we typically see from our younger generation of clients. It’s commonly referred to as the ‘Dine and Dash.’ If you go to a late night restaurant and enjoy a meal without any intention of paying, you can be charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor.
Misuse of 911 system (NCGS § 14-111.4)
It is unlawful for an individual who is not seeking public safety assistance, is not providing 911 service, or is not responding to a 911 call to access or attempt to access the 911 system for a purpose other than an emergency communication. A person who knowingly violates this section commits a Class 1 misdemeanor.
What it’s Really Saying:
The 911 call made in circumstances that don’t require emergency assistance is a serious crime. Every couple months a news story from some part of the country will include the criminal defendant who has called for 911 assistance when they didn’t receive their McDonald’s order quickly enough, or if they desperately need a ride to the liquor store for refills. Every time a 911 operator is distracted by non-emergency requests, someone who really needs their help may be denied access to emergency services. The Government takes these kinds of cases very seriously.
Obtaining merchandise on approval (NCGS § 14-112)
If any person, with intent to cheat and defraud, shall solicit and obtain from any merchant any article of merchandise on approval, and shall thereafter, upon demand, refuse or fail to return the same to such merchant in an unused and undamaged condition, or to pay for the same, such person so offending shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor. Evidence that a person has solicited a merchant to deliver to him any article of merchandise for examination or approval and has obtained the same upon such solicitation, and thereafter, upon demand, has refused or failed to return the same to such merchant in an unused and undamaged condition, or to pay for the same, shall constitute prima facie evidence of the intent of such person to cheat and defraud, within the meaning of this section: Provided, this section shall not apply to merchandise sold upon a written contract which is signed by the purchaser.
What it’s Really Saying:
The Scharff Law Firm will see these types of charges in relation to rent-to-own stores, which essentially gives furniture or car rims for example, to customers under the condition that payment will be made over a period of time. If the buyer fails to make payments and doesn’t return the property in the same condition it was loaned to them, they will be charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor.
Obtaining property in return for worthless check, draft or order (NCGS § 14-106)
Every person who, with intent to cheat and defraud another, shall obtain money, credit, goods, wares or any other thing of value by means of a check, draft or order of any kind upon any bank, person, firm or corporation, not indebted to the drawer, or where he has not provided for the payment or acceptance of the same, and the same be not paid upon presentation, shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor. The giving of the aforesaid worthless check, draft, or order shall be prima facie evidence of an intent to cheat and defraud.
What it’s Really Saying:
This is commonly referred to as a ‘worthless check’ charge. Calling the Raleigh fraud attorneys at Scharff Law Firm can save you a trip to the courthouse as these cases are often easily resolved with a restitution offer in court. Things can get more complicated if you have a series of worthless check convictions on your record. Many people have no intent to defraud anyone when this happens to them. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of mismanaging your checking account. Don’t go into court and plead guilty to this charge if you didn’t intend on having your check bounce. Call us for a free consultation so we can advise on how easy or complicated it will be to obtain a dismissal.
As you can see, Fraud covers a range of alleged criminal conduct, and we have only covered some of the more common misdemeanor Fraud charges. This is by no means an exhaustive list of fraudulent behavior covered in the North Carolina General Statutes, but simply some of the more commonplace Fraud charges that we’ve seen at the Scharff Law Firm.
Felony Fraud Charges
Identity theft (NCGS § 14-113.20)
A person who knowingly obtains, possesses, or uses identifying information of another person, living or dead, with the intent to fraudulently represent that the person for the purposes of making financial or credit transactions in the other person’s name, to obtain anything of value, benefit, or advantage, or for the purpose of avoiding legal consequences is generally guilty of a Class G Felony.
The identifying information can include the following:
- Social security or employer taxpayer identification numbers.
- Drivers license, State identification card, or passport numbers.
- Checking account numbers.
- Savings account numbers.
- Credit card numbers.
- Debit card numbers.
- Personal Identification (PIN) Codes
- Electronic identification numbers, Email names or addresses, Internet account numbers, or Internet identification names.
- Digital signatures.
- Any other numbers or information that can be used to access a person’s financial resources.
- Biometric data.
- Parent’s legal surname prior to marriage.
What it’s Really Saying:
Once the type of Fraud engaged in becomes felonious, the punishment becomes much more severe. Instead of a potential misdemeanor conviction which often times will result in a probationary sentence, Felony ID Theft is punishable by 8-16 months in a state prison for first time offenders with no prior convictions. If, however, you have any prior convictions on your criminal record, you could be facing much more prison time. The difference between Misdemeanor Possession of a Fake ID and Felony Identity Theft is the intent and the means for which you’ve acquired the identification. With the Felony charge, the victim has often been exploited and has lost money and credit ratings as a result of having their identity stolen. This is much more serious than allowing your roommate to use your ID to get into a bar, although some of the elements of the crime are similar.
Forgery (NCGS § 14-119 &120)
It is unlawful for any person to forge any instrument, or possess any counterfeit instrument, with the intent to injure or defraud any person, financial institution, or governmental unit. Any person in violation of this subsection is guilty of a Class I felony. Any person who transports or possesses five or more counterfeit instruments with the intent to injure or defraud any person, financial institution, or governmental unit is guilty of a Class G felony. If any person, directly or indirectly, whether for the sake of gain or with intent to defraud or injure any other person, shall utter or publish any such false, forged or counterfeited instrument as is mentioned in G.S. 14-119, or shall pass or deliver, or attempt to pass or deliver, any of them to another person (knowing the same to be falsely forged or counterfeited) the person so offending shall be punished as a Class I felon.
What it’s Really Saying:
The North Carolina fraud lawyers Scharff Law Firm, we often see Forgery charges stemming from activity involving signing other peoples signatures to time slips or work checks in order to get paid. The reasons for this behavior are often honorable. Perhaps the boss went home early that Friday and you need to get paid. Or maybe work was done off the record that the client felt they needed to be reimbursed for…Just remember, that signing someone else’s name to check or other instrument is always a bad move. Whether there was a verbal agreement or not, this behavior could get you charged with a Felony in North Carolina.
Embezzlement of property received by virtue of office or employment (NCGS § 14-90)
This section shall apply to any person:
- Exercising a public trust.
- Holding a public office.
- Who is a guardian, administrator, settlement agent, executor, trustee, or any receiver, or any other fiduciary.
- Who is an agent of a corporation, or any agent, consignee, clerk, bailee or servant, except persons under the age of 16 years.
- Embezzle or fraudulently or knowingly and willfully misapply or convert to his own use, or
- Take, make away with or secrete, with intent to embezzle or fraudulently or knowingly and willfully misapply or convert to
his own use,any money, goods or other chattels, bank note, check or order for the payment of money issued by or drawn on any bank
or other corporation, or any treasury warrant, treasury note, bond or obligation for the payment of money issued by the United States
or by any state, or any other valuable security whatsoever that (i) belongs to any other person or corporation, unincorporated
association or organization or (ii) are closing funds as defined in G.S. 45A-3, which shall have come into his possession or under his
care, shall be guilty of a felony.
If the value of the property described in subsection (b) of this section is one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) or more, the person is guilty of a Class C felony. If the value of the property is less than one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000), the person is guilty of a Class H felony.
What it’s Really Saying:
Put in plainer terms, if you are an employee who steals company funds by taking advantage of your position of trust in that company, you will be charged with Embezzlement. At the Scharff Law Firm, we are always amazed with how quickly these monies can accrue over a period of time. It’s easier than you would think to reach the $100,000 mark. Embezzling those kinds of funds from your employer could result in a potential prison term of 44-92 months if you’ve got no prior criminal history. Even if you are only charged with attempting to commit embezzlement, you can be charged with the crime of Obtaining Property By False Pretense.
Obtaining property by false pretenses (NCGS § 14‑100)
If any person shall knowingly by means of any kind of false pretense whatsoever, obtain or attempt to obtain from any person any money, goods, property, services, or other thing of value with intent to cheat or defraud any person of those things, the person shall be guilty of a felony.
Provided, that it shall be proved that they obtained the property in such manner as to amount to larceny or embezzlement, the jury shall have submitted to them such other felony proved; and no person tried for such felony shall be liable to be afterwards prosecuted for larceny or embezzlement upon the same facts: It shall be sufficient in any indictment for obtaining or attempting to obtain any such money, goods, property, services, chose in action, or other thing of value by false pretenses to allege that the party accused did the act with intent to defraud, without alleging an intent to defraud any particular person, and without alleging any ownership of the money, goods, property, services, chose in action or other thing of value; and upon the trial of any such indictment, it shall not be necessary to prove either an intent to defraud any particular person or that the person to whom the false pretense was made was the person defrauded, but it shall be sufficient to allege and prove that the party accused made the false pretense charged with an intent to defraud. If the value of the money, goods, property, services, chose in action, or other thing of value is one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) or more, a violation of this section is a Class C felony. If the value of the money, goods, property, services, chose in action, or other thing of value is less than one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000), a violation of this section is a Class H felony.
What it’s Really Saying:
Put in plainer language, Obtaining Property By False Pretenses can be viewed as a way for the Government to allege Embezzlement without having to prove all the elements of Embezzlement. It will suffice for them to prove that the Defendant acted with the intent to steal from their employer, whether or not they were successful. And proving who specifically, that the Defendant hoped to receive the unfair gain from, is not required for conviction. It is enough to demonstrate that you attempted to gain a thing of value from someone through deception.
Credit Card Fraud (NCGS §14-113.13)
The Statute pertaining to criminal credit card fraud is so lengthy and filled with detailed language and statutory cross-references, that we’re going to do our best to summarize it for you. If you want to read the actual statute in it’s entirety. Please click this hyperlink:
If you’d like to understand what it means in plain language, just know this:
You may be found guilty of credit card fraud if you, with the intent to defraud:
- Use a card you know was stolen from someone or received by a fraudulent card application, or one that was forged, altered, expired or revoked
- Obtain anything of value by:
- – Representing without owner’s permission that a credit card is yours
- – Presenting a card without the owner’s authorization
- – Representing that you own a card that has not yet been issued
- – Using a card to exceed the actual balance authorized by the card
- Obtain control over a card as security for debt
- Deposit into your account money in any form that is not yours
- Receive anything of value as a result of illegally deposited funds
If you are a business who provides money, goods or services, you are guilty of credit card fraud if you intentionally:
- Provide goods when paid with a card you know is stolen, forged, expired or revoked; or
- Fail to provide the services or goods you told the credit card company you provided
Credit card fraud under these sections is a Class 2 misdemeanor if the value of the fraudulent activity is less than $500 in any six-month period. If the value exceeds $500, it is a Class I felony punishable by up to eight months in jail, if you are a first time offender.
If you make a false statement when applying for a credit card, it is a Class 2 Misdemeanor. Also – if you make a false report you’re your credit card was stolen, or if you falsely allege you did not receive the goods you paid for, it is a Class 2 misdemeanor.
What it’s Really Saying:
We most often see Credit Card Fraud charges when someone is attempting to use a stolen credit card. It will often occur after a vehicle or home invasion. Sometimes the charge will arise when the defendant felt they had verbal permission to charge the card, but the owner turns around and calls authorities when the amount wasn’t what they anticipated. A good rule of thumb is to use your own credit cards, and if someone wants you to pay for their groceries in the course of your employment for them – tell them to give you cash.
Prescription Fraud (NCGS § 90-108)
It shall be unlawful:
- For any person to represent to any practitioner who manufactures, distributes, or dispenses a controlled substance under the provision of this Article that he is a licensed practitioner in order to secure or attempt to secure any controlled substance, or to in any way impersonate a practitioner for the purpose of securing or attempting to secure any drug requiring a prescription.
- To use in the course of the manufacture or distribution of a controlled substance a registration number which is fictitious, revoked, suspended, or issued to another person.
- To acquire or obtain possession of a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception, or subterfuge;
- To furnish false or fraudulent material information in, or omit any material information from, any application, report, or other document required to be kept or filed under this Article.
- To make, distribute, or possess anything designed to print, imprint, or reproduce the trademark, trade name, or other identifying mark, imprint, or device of another or any likeness of any of the foregoing upon any drug or container or labeling thereof so as to render such drug a counterfeit controlled substance;
- To obtain controlled substances through the use of legal prescriptions which have been obtained by the knowing and willful misrepresentation to or by the intentional withholding of information from one or more practitioners; or
- For anyone who is an employee of a practitioner and who is authorized to possess controlled substances or has access to controlled substances by virtue of his employment, to embezzle or fraudulently or knowingly and willfully misapply or divert to his own use or other unauthorized or illegal use or to take, make away with or secrete, with intent to embezzle or fraudulently or knowingly and willfully misapply or divert to his own use or other unauthorized or illegal use any controlled substance which shall have come into his possession or under his care.
Any person who violates this section shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Provided, that if the criminal pleading alleges that the violation was committed intentionally, and upon trial it is specifically found that the violation was committed intentionally, such violations shall be a Class I felony. If you’re facing prescription fraud charges, our Raleigh prescription fraud lawyers can help.
What it’s Really Saying:
Put plainly, if you’ve obtained drugs by representing you’re a licensed practitioner when you’re not; if you’ve manufactured or distributed a controlled substance using a stolen or fraudulent registration numbers; if you’ve acquired possession of a controlled substance by fraud, forgery or deception; if you’ve obtained drugs through a prescription which has been obtained by willful misrepresentation or withholding of information from one or more practitioners; or have stolen drugs made accessible during the course of employment – you can be charged with prescription fraud.
The Raleigh fraud lawyers at the Scharff Law Firm, commonly see Prescription Fraud charges stemming from activity that involves forging Doctor’s signatures on prescriptions, or employees of pharmacies using their position to secure controlled substances for themselves or others through deceitful practices. Remember, if you are trying to pass a prescription at a pharmacy, and you havn’t actually seen a doctor, or havn’t been handed that prescription from a Doctor at his office, you may be charged with prescription fraud. There has been an uptick recently in law enforcement stings involving suspects who have been manufacturing fake prescriptions and have access to Doctor’s signatures and prescription numbers. Getting involved in this kind of activity could mean 6 months in prison for the first time offender. Prescription fraud can be charged as a misdemeanor if the violation was committed unintentionally, but this is very uncommon. Most of these charges involve fact patterns wherein defendants commit these crimes knowingly and willfully – making it felonious.
WHITE COLLAR CRIME
Non-violent crimes such as Bank Fraud or Money Laundering are considered “white collar crimes” because they are often committed by upper-level management with access to the company’s financial records and accounts. The victim alleged will often be the corporation or it could be a multitude of employees of the corporation. The more complicated the scheme is, and the higher the amount of money that’s stolen and transferred, increases the chances that the White Collar Crime will be prosecuted by the Federal Government. Placing ‘laundered’ funds into a ‘stream of commerce’ or defrauding a government institution could garner the interest of Federal Prosecutors. Other types of White Collar Crimes that could be Federally Prosecuted are Corporate Fraud Schemes, Financial Transaction Fraud, Tax Evasion and Mail and Wire Fraud.
When the Federal Government is involved in your case, they often have been investigating you for months before you are aware of the investigation. If you are being investigated for any type of Fraud charge that involves sending money to various states through wire transfers or even through the mail, be certain that your attorney has Federal experience defending these types of charges. There may be a variety of defenses you can employ based on suppression motions that argue the implication of your constitutional rights. Flowing from the illegal search and seizure of your property.
At the Scharff Law Firm, we are dedicated to ensuring a rigorous defense for our clients that are charged with Misdemeanor, Felony or Federal Fraud charges. We are licensed to practice throughout the state of North Carolina and in every Federal District in the state. We have helped put together successful defense strategies for people charged with Fraud on every level of the court system. We are passionate about protecting our clients freedom, constitutional rights, and their financial assets. During your free consultation, we’ll listen to your story, inform you of the legal process, and and lay out our plan of action when it comes to defending your rights. We want you to have a full understanding of your pre-trial investigation rights, your right to pre-trial motions and trial rights, and even what may happen to you after your trial is concluded. We have the experience to calm your fears, because there isn’t much in terms of Fraud charges that we haven’t dealt with in the past.