Fraud is a serious crime that can result in civil fines and criminal penalties. While most instances of fraud are committed by people who know they are doing something wrong, it’s possible to commit fraud without knowing it. Following are four examples.
Reporting a legitimate credit card purchase as fraud
If you use your credit card a lot, you may not recognize every transaction that shows up on your monthly statement. Whether a mystery charge is for an item you bought while traveling or an old web subscription you have forgotten about, reporting it as fraudulent when you actually made the purchase could cause legal problems with your credit card issuer.
Getting car insurance information wrong
What is the primary zip code where you will be keeping your vehicle? Who will be the primary driver? Getting these questions wrong when applying for an insurance policy is all too easy. If giving the wrong answer ends up saving you money, the insurance company may accuse you of fraud.
Have you ever bought a nice clothing item, worn it once to a party or other occasion and then returned it? This practice is casually known as “wardrobing” and could be considered fraud, especially if the item was of high value and there is evidence you never intended to keep it.
Falling for a fraud scheme
Most people have received one of these emails at some point: A person in a far-off land needs your bank account info so they can transact in the United States. In return for this help, they will send you a significant sum of money. Sometimes these fraudsters are simply trying to bilk you out of money, but in other situations they are enlisting you in a criminal scheme without your knowledge. If you inadvertently launder money or otherwise help a criminal enterprise, you could wind up in serious legal trouble.
These examples are relatively uncommon (fraud is typically more overt) but demonstrate how easy it is to run afoul of the law when handling complex financial transactions. Any fraud allegation should be taken very seriously. Consult with an experienced defense lawyer at the earliest sign of trouble to protect your rights and avoid any unnecessary misunderstandings with law enforcement officials.