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Forgery | Fraud

The common act of forgery and fraud are the same as it is defined under a white collar crime. Normally forgery occurs when someone writes or signs a document without the consent of another person. This makes it a false, counterfeit or altered document. Forgery can also be making counterfeit coins or money for fraudulent use to commit a crime. Both forgery and fraud can be charged a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the type of crime committed. There are different types of fraud, but the main point is that is a deliberate misrepresentation which causes another person to suffer damages, usually monetary losses. Most people consider the act of lying to be fraudulent, but in a legal sense lying is only one small element of actual fraud. Many businesses and individuals now have put forth an effort to fight fraud or forgery. Not just a federal crime, but the state of California considers these types of case seriously. These are just a few types of fraud; being financial, identity theft, corporate, internet, check forgery, and credit card fraud. Some Federal Statutes that cover fraud can include, but not limited to mail fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1341), Counterfeiting and forgery (18 USC Chapter 25) which has several sections to identify different areas and many others. If you are a victim or charged with one of these charges, you will want to seek proper authority and legal counsel.

Fraud must be proved by showing that the defendant's actions involved five separate elements: (1) a false statement of a material fact, (2) knowledge on the part of the defendant that the statement is untrue, (3) intent on the part of the defendant to deceive the alleged victim, (4) justifiable reliance by the alleged victim on the statement, and (5) injury to the alleged victim as a result.

California Penal Code 470

(a) Every person who, with the intent to defraud, knowing that he or she has no authority to do so, signs the name of another person or of a fictitious person to any of the items listed in subdivision (d) is guilty of forgery.   (b) Every person who, with the intent to defraud, counterfeits or forges the seal or handwriting of another is guilty of forgery.   (c) Every person who, with the intent to defraud, alters, corrupts, or falsifies any record of any will, codicil, conveyance, or other instrument, the record of which is by law evidence, or any record of any judgment of a court or the return of any officer to any process of any court, is guilty of forgery.   (d) Every person who, with the intent to defraud, falsely makes, alters, forges, or counterfeits, utters, publishes, passes or attempts or offers to pass, as true and genuine, any of the following items, knowing the same to be false, altered, forged, or counterfeited, is guilty of forgery: any check, bond, bank bill, or note, cashier's check, traveler's check, money order, post note, draft, any controller's warrant for the payment of money at the treasury, county order or warrant, or request for the payment of money, receipt for money or goods, bill of exchange, promissory note, order, or any assignment of any bond, writing obligatory, or other contract for money or other property, contract, due bill for payment of money or property, receipt for money or property, passage ticket, lottery ticket or share purporting to be issued under the California State Lottery Act of 1984, trading stamp, power of attorney, certificate of ownership or other document evidencing ownership of a vehicle or undocumented vessel, or any certificate of any share, right, or interest in the stock of any corporation or association, or the delivery of goods or chattels of any kind, or for the delivery of any instrument of writing, or acquittance, release or discharge of any debt, account, suit, action, demand, or any other thing, real or personal, or any transfer or assurance of money, certificate of shares of stock, goods, chattels, or other property whatever, or any letter of attorney, or other power to receive money, or to receive or transfer certificates of shares of stock or annuities, or to let, lease, dispose of, alien, or convey any goods, chattels, lands, or tenements, or other estate, real or personal, or falsifies the acknowledgment of any notary public, or any notary public who issues an acknowledgment knowing it to be false; or any matter described in subdivision (b).   (e) Upon a trial for forging any bill or note purporting to be the bill or note of an incorporated company or bank, or for passing, or attempting to pass, or having in possession with intent to pass, any forged bill or note, it is not necessary to prove the incorporation of the bank or company by the charter or act of incorporation, but it may be proved by general reputation; and persons of skill are competent witnesses to prove that the bill or note is forged or counterfeited.

Common Types (Federal)
  • Stock Fraud: Federal penalties include financial fines and up to 20 years in prison.
  • Insurance Fraud: Federal penalties include financial fines and prison sentences ranging from 10 years to life in prison, depending on the damages.
  • Credit Card Fraud: Federal penalties include financial fines and prison terms of 10 – 20 years.
  • Bank fraud is a federal crime with financial penalties up to 1 million dollars and prison terms of up to 30 years.
  • Tax Fraud: Federal tax fraud penalties include significant financial fines and prison terms of up to 5 years.
  • Mail Fraud: Federal penalties can be as high as 1 million dollars and 30 years in prison.
  • Check Fraud: Depends on the amount, but has severe federal fines and jail time.

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