WHITE  COLLAR CRIMES

Individuals charged with a white collar offense are not only exposed to significant fines and lengthy prison sentences, but they are often professionals who are likely to suffer permanent damage to their career and reputation.

 

At the Law Office of Sara Azari, we routinely enlist skilled investigators and experts such as former IRS and FBI agents, postal investigators, government agents, forensic experts, and former prosecutors and probation officers as experts in the defense of our white collar matters.

 

A successful criminal defense strategy when defending white collar accusations often requires finding a needle in a haystack. We have a strong record of finding the smallest needle in the largest haystack.

The following is a non-exhaustive list of White Collar Crimes our office routinely defends:

 

Bribery

Bribery is the giving, offering, receiving, or asking for anything of value in exchange for money or a favor from someone who in a position or power. Unlike the crime of extortion, bribery requires a participant who works in government, politics, public services, business or sports.  It also does not require a clear threat or leverage that induces the victim to agree. 

Examples of bribery include:

  • A lobbyist offering to pay money to a senator in exchange for a certain vote

  • An government employee soliciting and accepting money from a company to ensure the company receives a desired license 

  • A city employee offering to cancel a debt in exchange for cash payment

 

Commercial Fraud

Businesses that misrepresent their profits and expenses may be accused of commercial fraud. To be proven guilty of commercial fraud, the court must find that:

 

  • The defendant made a false statement of material fact

  • The defendant knew that the statement was untrue

  • The defendant intended to deceive the victim

  • The victim justifiably relied on the statement

  • The victim suffered damages as a result

 

Computer Fraud

A common example of computer fraud is where an individual hacks into the emails or accounts of another without consent or authorization and by doing so, obtains or uses personal or financial information towards engaging in an unlawful activity such as transferring funds to their own financial accounts.  Computer Fraud is often charged alongside charges of Identity Fraud.

 

Credit Card Fraud

Credit Card Fraud stems from the unauthorized use of a credit card for payment of goods or services, or to make a payment to a different account.  Common examples of credit card fraud, typically charged in California courts include:

  • Creating a fake but credit card

  • Using another’s credit card information for the purchase of goods and services without authorization

  • Transferring funds from another's credit card without their authorization

 

Extortion

Extortion is a criminal offense in which an individual uses threats, coercion, or intimidation to obtain money, goods, or services. Immediate harm to the victim is not required.  Rather, the victim is willing to provide the money, goods, or services based on the fear of future harm. An extortionist threat may also be about exposing a person to the media or subjecting them to an internal investigation or criminal investigation in regard to some other matter. Extortion can be performed by or inflicted upon a politician or employee of the federal government. The various types of extortion include blackmail, ransom, and bribery.

Examples of extortion include:

  • Members of a mob threatening violence to induce a stockbroker to falsely alter the value of certain stock so as to benefit the mob

  • A private investigator seeking money from a private citizen for him to refrain from filing a criminal complaint against the individual

  • A photographer seeking millions of dollars from a celebrity so as not to release nude photographs to the media

 

Healthcare Fraud

Healthcare Fraud (often charged under federal law) refers to any illegal activity involving medical fraud, prescription fraud, and fraud against and insurance carrier or government healthcare program.  Individuals charged with Healthcare Fraud may but need not be licensed professionals or healthcare workers.  The following are common examples of Healthcare Fraud:

 

  • Up-coding insurance claims

  • Ghost patients

  • Services not provided

  • Services not medically necessary

  • Fraudulent prescribing of compound medication

  • Kickback payments

  • "Incident to" violations

  • Unqualified or unlicensed providers

  • Unlawful prescribing of pharmaceuticals and/or steroids

  • Black market pharmaceutical sales (illicit sales of pharmaceuticals)

  • Fraudulent claims to recover insurance or government or benefits

  • Medicare/Medi-Cal Fraud

 

Immigration Fraud

Immigration Fraud is a federal crime that refers to unlawful activity and/or willful misrepresentations towards securing immigration benefits including visas, citizenship, and travel privileges.  It commonly falsifying a visa or citizenship application or fraudulently obtaining legal status such as by way of a sham marriage or employment. There are two types of Immigration Fraud:

 

Document Fraud: occurs when entry/admission into the United States is procured by fraud or by willfully misrepresenting a material fact. Examples of document immigration fraud relating to document misrepresentation include:

 

  • use of a false name, birth date or marital status to obtain a visa, an extension or change of status or adjustment of status; and/or

  • making a false claim to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident on an I-9 form in order to obtain employment.

 

Benefit Application Fraud occurs when an individual unlawfully obtains a benefit under the immigration laws (e.g. through a sham marriage)

 

Loan Fraud

Loan Fraud (also known as Mortgage Fraud) refers to an intentional misrepresentation or omission of information to an underwriter or lender to fund, purchase, or insure a loan in a real estate transaction.

 

Some examples of Loan Fraud include:

 

  • Home buyers inflating their income information on a loan application;

  • Real estate developers providing false information to banks to qualify buyers;

  • Mortgage brokers providing false information to financial institutions in order to secure a more attractive loan for their clients; and

  • Real estate agents paying the down payment on property without informing the lender.

 

Mail Fraud

Mail Fraud and Wire Fraud are federal crimes that are often charged together.  Mail Fraud refers to the use of mail -including the U.S. Postal Service, Federal Express, and other couriers- associated with fraudulent activity.  

Some common examples of Mail Fraud are:

  • Theft of mail from a mailbox

  • Non-delivery or misrepresentation of mail-order merchandise

  • Impersonation of an individual to receive mail

  • Falsification of promotional checks

  • Sending solicitations in the semblance of invoices

  • Fraudulent get-rich-quick and work-at-home schemes 

  • Setting up counterfeit charities by mail

 

Medical Fraud

Medical Fraud (often charged under federal law) refers to any illegal activity involving healthcare fraud, prescription fraud, and fraud against and insurance carrier or government healthcare program.  Individuals charged with Medical Fraud may but need not be licensed professionals or healthcare workers.  The following are common examples of Medical Fraud:

  • Up-coding insurance claims

  • Ghost patients

  • Services not provided

  • Services not medically necessary

  • Fraudulent prescribing of compound medication

  • Kickback payments

  • "Incident to" violations

  • Unqualified or unlicensed providers

  • Unlawful prescribing of pharmaceuticals and/or steroids

  • Black market pharmaceutical sales (illicit sales of pharmaceuticals)

  • Fraudulent claims to recover insurance or government or benefits

  • Medicare/Medi-Cal fraud

Money Laundering

The federal crime of money laundering involves the process of making illegal or “dirty” money appear legal or “clean.”  The government prosecutes money laundering under a variety of laws including the Bank Secrecy Act, a variety of Money Laundering Control Acts, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, the Patriot Act, and recently the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act.  

Often money laundering charges are related to narcotic activity, gambling, and tax evasion.  In additional to the penalties for the underlying conduct, a conviction for  money laundering can lead to the risk of lengthier prison sentences.  Investigations of federal money laundering crimes can also result in the seizure and potential forfeiture of cash, cars, and real estate.  

 
 

Real Estate Fraud

Real Estate Fraud refers to fraud in connection with the purchase, sale, rental or financing or real estate property.  It may be charged under state or federal law commonly as mortgage fraud and/or title fraud. 

 

  • Mortgage fraud is the use of false information to secure a mortgage loan. 

 

  • Title fraud is the unauthorized assumption of a homeowner's identity in order to claim the title of a home towards the sale of the property or for financial gain against the property as collateral. 

 

Securities Fraud

Securities fraud, also known as investment fraud, is a federal white collar crime that involves the deception or manipulation of investors in order to make purchase or sales decisions on the basis of false information.  It also involves misleading accounting firms by “fixing” a company’s books. An individual or business may commit securities fraud by intentionally misrepresenting the financial well-being of a company and other activities including:

 

  • Understating revenues

  • Overstating assets

  • Making unethical or unauthorized trades

  • Creating illegal accounts

 

Another common example of Securities Fraud is Insider Trading, the practice of trading stocks to one's own advantage by obtaining or accessing confidential "insider" information.

 

Tax Fraud

The term "criminal tax fraud," or "tax evasion," refers to the avoidance of paying federal, state, or local taxes by illegal means. This should not be confused with tax avoidance (attempts to reduce or avoid tax payment through legal means) or tax resistance (the declared refusal to pay taxes for conscientious or ethical reasons). In general, mere mistakes and oversight are not considered a crime. Examples of the crime of tax fraud include:

 

  • Failing to file a tax return

  • Understating income

  • Providing inadequate or false records

  • Concealing assets

  • Unwillingness to cooperate with tax authorities to avoid tax liability

  • Engaging in and/or attempting to conceal illegal activities (tax fraud related to money laundering)

  • Structuring cash transactions over $10,000 by making incremental bank deposits

  • Making false statements on tax returns

  • Failing to deposit and report cash income to a void tax liability

 

Welfare Fraud

Welfare fraud is a crime described under California law as the willful making of false statements, with the intent to deceive, in order to obtain aid or continue to receive aid to which an individual is otherwise not entitled.  The offense occurs if an individual knowingly submits false information or fails to provide information when applying for a state benefit program including:

 

  • CalWORKs

  • CalFresh (food stamps)

  • General Relief

  • Medicare

  • Head Start

 

Common acts leading to a charge of Welfare Fraud include:

 

  • Intentional misstatement of information to receive benefits

  • Failure to provide relevant information to receive benefits

  • Application for benefits using more than one name/identity

  • Filing of multiple applications to obtain multiple benefits

  • Use, transfer, purchase, sale, or possession of counterfeit food stamps

 

Welfare Fraud may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony under California law.  Penalties for Welfare Fraud include fines and vary from probation to time in county jail or state prison depending on the circumstances and the loss amount.  

 

Wire Fraud

Mail Fraud and Wire Fraud are federal crimes that are often charged together.  Wire fraud involves the use of electronic transmission and/or the internet in the course of engaging in fraudulent activity.  It is committed by using a mode of communication - the Internet, radio, television, phone, fax machine, or any other communication medium other than mail – to obtain money, property, or sensitive personal information fraudulently.

Common examples of Wiire Fraud include:

 

  • Phishing: sending emails with the intent to obtain private personal information

  • Websites that are designed and used to trick users into submitting personal information

  • Fraudulently obtaining identification and/or financial information from an individual over the phone by misrepresenting the purpose for the information being sought.

  • Use of emails to obtain illegal kickbacks

  • Use of emails to obtain a loan or monies based on false information.

At the Law Office of Sara Azari in Los Angeles, you will find a criminal defense attorney who is committed to protecting the rights of and aggressively pursuing justice for her clients. Sara Azari has successfully represented clients in a range of criminal cases in both state and federal courts.

 

333 S. Hope Street, Suite 4000

Los Angeles, CA 90071

  • Grey Facebook Icon
  • Grey Twitter Icon
  • Grey YouTube Icon

© 2020 SARA AZARI