3 Fraud Crimes in Texas
Being accused of committing fraud in Texas is a very serious matter. These kinds of charges can lead to your arrest and you may have to undergo a trial as a result. The fact is that Texas courts and law enforcement take fraud cases very seriously and they have an interest in pursuing a conviction.
What exactly constitutes fraud under Texas Law? There are actually many different types of fraud and the type of fraud in a particular case can have a serious impact on any legal proceedings. Read on to learn more about the different types of fraud and how they are prosecuted in Texas.
What Is Criminal Fraud?
According to the law, an act of fraud is a deliberate attempt to deceive another person, usually for personal or financial gain. To defraud someone is to use deceit, false information or misleading statements in order to obtain money, goods, information or services.
For example, suppose that Wanda goes to the convenience store with her friend Diane’s checkbook. She takes several items to the counter and then writes a check that belongs to her friend. She pays the cashier and leaves with the items. Wanda has committed a type of fraud known as check fraud.
She used funds which belonged to someone in order to make a purchase for her personal gain. She has committed fraud and she may be charged with a crime because she:
- Used another person’s checks as if they were her own
- Deceived the cashier into thinking that she was someone else
- Committed these actions in order to benefit herself
Check fraud is a very serious offense but there are many other types of fraud that may lead to arrest and criminal prosecution.
1. Credit Card Fraud
This is a type of fraud that you may have heard about on the news. More and more people are making the majority of their purchases with debit and credit cards. While these payment methods are convenient, they can be abused for fraudulent purposes.
Section 32.31 of the Texas Penal Code states that it is a crime to:
- Use a credit or debit card belonging to another person to make purchases without that person’s consent
- Use an expired credit or debit card with the knowledge that is expired or invalid
If Devon takes his mother’s debit card to the mall and purchases some clothes without getting her permission, he may be arrested and charged with debit card abuse. In Texas, this crime is a state jail felony, punishable by up to two years in state prison and a fine of $10,000. If it is committed against an elderly person, it can be upgraded to a third degree felony.
2. Health Care Fraud
Many people rely on healthcare services, such as Medicare, to get the medical treatments that they need at an affordable cost. However, some care providers and patients sometimes make false claims or provide false information in order to obtain profits, goods or services for free or at a reduced cost.
For example, Winston is a family care physician. On three occasions, he orders treatments for some of his elderly patients and bills Medicare for the cost of the procedures and required equipment. However, he never actually performs the procedures for which he billed Medicare. Winston has committed Medicare fraud and he may face prosecution.
Because Medicare is a federal government organization, violating its rules is a federal felony offense. Winston may be investigated by Texas law enforcement as well as federal agents. If convicted, he could face years in federal prison and very high fines.
3. Identity Theft
Identity theft is a big problem in Texas and across the nation. Every year, millions of people face economic losses and significant hardship as the result of having their personal information used by others for fraudulent purposes.
Section 32.51 of the Texas Penal Code makes it a criminal offense to use the identifying information of another person to obtain money, goods, services or anything of value. This crime is a state jail felony if the number of pieces of identifying information is less than five. A conviction can lead to:
- Up to two years in state jail
- A fine of up to $10,000
- Probation and community service
If a person if found with more than five pieces of identifying information belonging to others, their charges may be enhanced.
For example, if Juan has been stealing driver’s licenses belonging to others in order to initiate bank transfers, he may be investigated by the police. If Juan is found to be in possession of 20 stolen driver’s licenses, he may face second degree felony charges.
If you are facing fraud charges in Texas, a defense attorney may be able to provide advice on your case.
Are you or someone you know being charged with fraud? A strong legal defense can help protect your rights. Attorney Matthew Sharp has the knowledge and experience you need. Contact his office today at 713-868-6100.