Defense for Federal Fraud Charges
Fraud involves the intentional deception of another person or business for the purpose of personal or financial gain. Fraud can be perpetrated in a number of ways including the marketing and sale of fraudulent business opportunities. According to the Federal Trade Commission, business opportunity fraud is becoming an epidemic problem as more Americans are being targeted by so-called “get rich quick” schemes. As such, the federal government has increased its efforts to identify fraudulent business opportunities and prosecute their perpetrators. If you’ve been accused of attempting to defraud consumers through a business opportunity scam, you need to contact a qualified Federal Criminal Defense Attorney right away.
What constitutes business opportunity fraud?
There are a number of things that can be construed as business opportunity fraud. Examples of fraudulent business opportunities may include:
- Work-at-home scams
- Pyramid schemes
- Telemarketing schemes
- Schemes involving vending machines
- Real estate scams
Individuals who market fraudulent business opportunities may target potential victims by sending out mailers, contacting them by telephone or through spam email campaigns. These individuals may make false promises, misrepresent the business opportunity itself or deliberately exaggerate the potential for profits in order to generate sales. For example, they may claim that consumers can make X amount of money within a relatively short period of time or require consumers to pay a fee to gain access to mailing lists or other materials that are essential to the business.
While these examples represent blatant attempts to defraud customers, there may be instances where a business opportunity is misconstrued as fraud. For example, if you market or sell a legitimate business opportunity to a consumer and their profits fall short of their expectations, they may accuse you of making false claims in order to sell the product. While the business opportunity may be valid, the potential for success often depends on the training, skill and experience of the individual investor. If the business fails, the blame may fall on the person who sold the business opportunity. There is a fine line in determining what action or inaction constitutes fraud when it comes to business opportunities, which makes it vital to seek the aid of a qualified attorney if you’ve been charged with this type of crime.
Penalties for Business Opportunity Fraud
If you become the target of a federal prosecution for business opportunity fraud, you potentially face some severe penalties. If it’s determined that you worked in collusion with another individual or group of individuals to facilitate the fraud, you may be charged with conspiracy which carries a sentence of up to five years in prison. In addition to conspiracy charges, you may also face charges for wire or mail fraud which carry a penalty of up to 20 years in prison. If it’s determined that the fraud affected a financial institution, you can be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison. A conviction on federal fraud or conspiracy charges can also carry additional penalties, including substantial fines and the payment of restitution to the victims.
Charges of business opportunity fraud must be taken seriously and it’s critical that you consult a lawyer as soon as possible. Attorney Michael Schmiege provides expert criminal defense for individuals charged with business opportunity fraud in Illinois and throughout the United States. He is committed to vigorously defending the rights of every client in order to ensure the best outcome possible. A conviction for business opportunity fraud may mean the loss of your liberty and your good name.