The State of Maine has an array of laws that criminalize fraudulent conduct, such as credit card fraud and bank fraud. Although these may be the most common fraud-related crimes that comes to mind, fraud actually is a large umbrella that covers many different criminal acts. In fact, fraud is the most prevalent white collar crime. In addition to Maine’s state laws, there are also federal statutes criminalizing this type of conduct. Thus when a person faces potential fraud charges, he or she may face serious federal penalties. That is why anyone charged with fraud in Maine needs an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Most Common Acts Of Fraud: Mention the crime of fraud and there are particular acts that commonly come to mind, such as:
- Misuse of personal identification
- Unauthorized use of credit and/or debit cards
- Misuse of scanning device for electronic payment
- Misuse of public benefits
- Home repair scams
The Scope Of Fraud: Fraud is a singular term that covers a broad scope of conduct. Maine’s criminal code lists fraudulent practices according to 4 categories in addition to the most common ones previously mentioned:
1. Deceptive Business Practices:
- Intentionally using false weight or measurement device
- Intentionally selling a misrepresented quantity of goods or services
- Intentionally taking more of a commodity or service from a vendor than what was paid for
- Purposely selling mislabeled commodities
- Selling a motor vehicle with altered serial number
- False advertising
- Tampering with the outcome of a sporting event or other game or contest to affect the event’s outcome
2. Deceptive Insurance Practices: Making a false insurance claim and/or filing a false police report is fraud on the part an insured. However, an insurance industry professional can also be guilty of fraud if they approve policies, renewals or claims they know to be false. Any person doing business as an insurance professional who lacks the required licenses, certifications and credentials is potentially guilty of committing fraud.
3. Defrauding A Creditor: Persons who owe a debt to a lender or other creditor commits a crime if they knowingly conceal or destroy that property. For example, if a person falls behind in motor vehicle finance payments, he or she risks repossession of that vehicle by the lender. Any act to conceal, transfer or otherwise avoid repossession could be construed as a criminal fraud.
4. Misuse Of Entrusted Property: Persons to whom property is entrusted have a fiduciary duty to the owner of that property and commit the crime of fraud if the entrusted property is misused for their own personal gain or in a manner that violates the terms of their fiduciary duties. For example, if a vulnerable elderly person assigns a loved one power of attorney, that person must exercise his or her power honestly and consistent width the terms of the assignment. He or she may not use the property as collateral to secure a personal loan or otherwise transfer it for personal gain. Such conduct if discovered would most likely result in a charge of criminal fraud.
Penalties: Facing a charge of fraud-related crime, whether a misdemeanor or felony under Maine law has serious life changing consequences including jail time, fines, restitution and loss of employment. Although fraud is considered to be a white collar crime, the stigma to one’s reputation if convicted may have a negative effect for life.
Minimize The Damage: To minimize the potential negative impact of a fraud charge, it’s important to be represented by an attorney experienced in white collar criminal defense. The criminal justice system is complex. Having a qualified advocate aggressively representing your best interests is key to securing the best outcome. If you have been charged with fraud, please contact us to partner with legal professionals who will build a strong defense on your behalf.