Houston Fraud Lawyer

Skilled Federal Fraud Defense Attorneys Serving Houston, TX

houston fraud lawyerDepending on the circumstances, fraud can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Generally, the penalties increase depending on the value of the property involved. If convicted of a misdemeanor, you could face up to one year in jail and a fine not to exceed $4,000. If convicted of a felony, you could face a fine up to $10,000 and imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. If you have been charged with fraud our Houston Fraud Lawyer can help you.

Texas Penal Code Chapter 32 codifies Fraud offenses in the state. Some of the most common fraud charges include:

    • Forgery (Section 32.21)
    • Counterfeiting
    • Stealing or Receiving a Stolen Check (Section 32.24)
  • Credit Card or Debit Card Abuse (Section 32.31)
  • Fraudulent use or possession of identifying information (Section 32.51)

Fraud Against a Financial Institution

Bank Fraud, insurance fraud, and mortgage fraud are some of the most serious white-collar crimes because they often involve property or service of a high value. The higher the value of the property or service, the more likely you will face a felony charge that carries a punishment of state imprisonment

Fraud Enhancements

Pursuant to Penal Code Section 32.53, when the fraud involves the exploitation of a child, elderly or disabled individual you can be charged with an enhanced felony that carries a significant prison sentence. Exploitation under this section involves the “illegal or improper use of a child, elderly individual or disabled individual or the use of the resources of a child, elderly individual or disabled individual for monetary or personal benefit, profit, or gain.”

Federal Fraud In Houston, TX

Federal fraud is a serious offense that encompasses a wide range of crimes, including:

  • Healthcare fraud
  • Mortgage Fraud
  • Wire Fraud
  • Bank Fraud
  • Mail Fraud
  • Securities Fraud
  • Insurance Fraud

Healthcare fraud is a heavily prosecuted crime in Texas. Federal healthcare fraud is investigated by several different agencies and task forces, including the Department of Justice’s Health Care Fraud Unit, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Medicare Fraud Strike Force. If you are convicted of federal health care fraud in Houston, TX, you could face imprisonment, a fine, or both.

Attorney James Alston has represented many clients that have been charged with health care fraud or the payment of kickbacks. Federal investigators and prosecutors usually investigate Home Health Agencies, and the doctors, nurses, medical professionals, that are employed by Home Health Agencies or own the agency. The federal agents and prosecutors are investigating to see if the services billed to Medicare were provided and or medically necessary. One of the main aspects that federal prosecutors investigate is to determine if the patients, or Medicare beneficiaries, were actually home bound; thus, was the service billed to Medicare medically necessary. Additionally, federal agents and prosecutors are investigating to determine if illegal kickbacks were paid to marketers for the marketers to bring the Medicare patients to the home health agency or if kickbacks were paid to the doctors for the doctors to sign medical orders for the home health service.

Healthcare fraud is usually charged under 18 United States Code §1347, which makes it a crime to:

  1. Whoever knowingly and willfully executes, or attempts to execute, a scheme or artifice—
    • to defraud any health care benefit program; or
    • to obtain, by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, any of the money or property owned by, or under the custody or control of, any health care benefit program, in connection with the delivery of or payment for health care benefits, items, or services, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both. If the violation results in serious bodily injury (as defined in section 1365 of this title), such person shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both; and if the violation results in death, such person shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both.
  2. With respect to violations of this section, a person need not have actual knowledge of this section or specific intent to commit a violation of this section.

People who are charged with federal healthcare fraud crimes are often charged in a multicount indictment with violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute for receiving financial incentives for referrals, free or low rent for office space, or excessive compensation for medical directorships. A conviction for a violation of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute is a serious felony and can result in fines up to $25,000 per violation and up to a 5-year prison term.

Federal Mortgage Fraud

Mortgage fraud is generally broken down into two basic categories: fraud for profit and fraud for housing. Federal mortgage fraud may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony and can result in a sentence of up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. In addition to prison time and a hefty fine, a person convicted for federal mortgage fraud may be required to serve probation and make restitution. According to the United States Sentencing Commission, 87.7 percent of those charged with a mortgage fraud offense were sentenced to prison.

Federal Wire Fraud in Houston TX

Federal wire fraud is charged under statute 18 U.S.C. 1343.  While courts may tailor the specific elements of federal wire fraud to the case at hand.  Generally, to prove federal wire fraud, a prosecutor must show:

  1. The use of interstate wire communications in the foreseeable furtherance
  2. Of a scheme and intent to defraud another of either property or honest services
  3. Involving a material deception

A conviction for federal wire fraud can carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of not more than $250,000. In addition, a person may be required to serve probation, make restitution, undergo supervised release, and adhere to special assessments according to our Houston Fraud Lawyer. A court may also require forfeiture of any “property that constitutes the proceeds of mail or wire fraud.”

Federal Bank Fraud in Houston TX

Federal Bank Fraud is codified into law under 18 U.S.C. 1344. Under this code, bank fraud is defined as:

“Whoever knowingly executes, or attempts to execute, a scheme or artifice-

  1. To defraud a financial institution; or
  2. To obtain any of the moneys, funds, credits, assets, securities, or other property owned by, or under the custody or control of, a financial institution, by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises;”

If convicted of bank fraud in Houston, TX, a person may face a prison sentence of up to thirty (30) years, or a fine of not more than $1,000,000, or both.

Federal Mail Fraud in Houston TX

Federal Mail Fraud is prosecuted under 18 U.S.C. 1341.  The courts have recognized two fundamental elements of mail fraud:

  1. Having devised or intending to devise a scheme to defraud (or to perform specified fraudulent acts), and
  2. Use of the mail for the purpose of executing, or attempting to execute, the scheme (or specified fraudulent acts).

A person may face up to twenty (20) years in prison, a hefty fine or both if convicted of federal mail fraud. If the scheme was in relation to a major disaster or emergency, the fine is increased to a maximum of $1,000,000, up to thirty (30) years in prison, or both.

Federal Insurance Fraud in Houston TX

A federal prosecutor will pursue insurance fraud charges when the scam affects interstate commerce. If convicted of federal insurance fraud, a person may face a state prison sentence, hefty fines, restitution, and more. Federal insurance fraud includes schemes against auto insurers, life insurance carriers, health care, property, and workers’ compensation.

Federal Securities Fraud in Houston TX

Federal securities fraud is a broad area of law involving the purchasing and sale of securities (stocks, bonds, and investments). The SEC enforces federal securities laws and can bring an investigation for fraud under several different federal statutes. If convicted of federal securities fraud in Houston, TX, a person may face imprisonment, high fines, probation, restitution, and more.

Hire a Houston Fraud Lawyer Right Away

If you are charged with a fraud offense in Houston, Texas, you need to act fast to preserve your rights. Attorney James Alston is a former prosecutor with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. As a state attorney, he was assigned to the Major Fraud Division, investigating and prosecuting numerous fraud cases. His unique, insider knowledge allows him to prepare a strong defense for his clients and fight for the best possible outcome in their case. Contact James Alston Law today to schedule your consultation at (713) 228-1400.