Federal authorities report significant rise in fraud cases

Federal authorities have been shifting their focus toward fraud cases in recent years. In the past year alone, the U.S. Department of Justice has worked on at least 800 fraud cases.

States have been attempting to crack down on fraud cases as well, with several states allocating additional resources to fight fraud and other federal crimes, including embezzlement, wire fraud, securities fraud and bank fraud. When defendants are convicted of fraud, they could face harsh punishments including fines, time in prison and the loss of a job.

Attorneys say they are seeing an increase in investor fraud schemes. Law enforcement agencies and prosecutors cite statistics indicating that investor fraud crimes have increased by 136 percent since 2008.

The economy has played a significant role in the increase in criminal cases involving fraud. Ponzi schemes, for example, tend to prosper during good economic times. The people orchestrating such schemes can continue to recruit new participants for years without being suspected of defrauding clients. As the economy begins to hit a downturn, though, fewer folks are able to invest, and schemes tend to unravel.

Experts are attempting to educate the public about fraud now more than ever, according to industry leaders. Investors should be careful to examine the credentials of anyone who claims to be a qualified professional. Additional enforcement efforts are also being bolstered by online resources such as stopfraud.gov.

With authorities paying particular attention to fraud, many people could be under investigation for committing the serious offense without even realizing it. Authorities could also be making some mistakes during investigations that could result in wrongful arrests.

Folks who are under investigation for committing fraud or who have been charged with fraud will need to make sure that their rights remain properly protected in court. Federal crimes are serious offenses, and without a proper defense, some folks could face harsh punishments that could have otherwise been minimized or even avoided.

Source: Reuters, “Feds step up investor fraud education efforts,” Mitch Lipka, Oct. 23, 2012

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Federal authorities report significant rise in fraud cases