West Palm Beach
Telemarketing Fraud Attorney
Count on our experience for your tough federal case
Telemarketing is a part of daily life. Most people dislike intrusive sales calls, but many companies find success with this marketing tactic all the same. The commonplace nature of telemarketing creates opportunities for illegitimate companies to commit crimes by deceiving people over the phone. Federal law specifically labels telemarketing fraud as a distinct type of crime. The use of telephones or electronic messages adds additional criminal charges on people accused of fraud. Multiple federal charges worsen the potential for serious penalties. This situation increases the need for the representation from a telemarketing fraud defense lawyer in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Legal definition of telemarketing fraud
Telemarketing fraud is considered a a federal offense. Within 18 U.S. Code Section 2325, telemarketing fraud is defined as the use of interstate telephone calls, emails, text messages or electronic instant messages to lure people into:
- buying goods or services
- entering a sweepstakes or contest
- donating to a charity
- investing in a business
- securing a loan
- participating in a study
The law is violated when any of the above actions depend on deceiving the person taking the call. Something about the service, charity, or other offer is fake or untrue, and the bad information motivates the victim to part with money or personal information.
People targeted by telemarketing fraud do not have to actually lose money. The attempt to knowingly entice people into a fraudulent scheme can represent a crime. In fact, recipients of suspicious calls may report their concerns to authorities even if they did not send money. This could launch an investigation that could result in federal charges. Legal representation could aid someone targeted for investigation due to complaints from people who misunderstood an offer and assumed it was illegal.
Examples of telemarketing fraud
Like any type of fraud, the people perpetuating phone scams can be quite creative. Telemarketing frauds approach people from any number of directions, such as:
- grandparent con: A caller contacts an elderly person and tricks the person into thinking the caller is his or her grandchild. The caller then claims to be in trouble, such as a car accident or arrest, and requests money.
- fake Medicare representative: A caller poses as someone from Medicare and asks the person who answers for personal information, like the Social Security number and Medicare ID. This information can be used to commit health care fraud, identity theft and other frauds.
- charity fund drive: The caller claims to be collecting donations for an organization. Disasters from current events, like a hurricane or a war, are often used to make the fund drive appear legitimate and urgent. Sick children and veterans are also perennial favorites cited by telemarketers to pull on people’s heart strings.
- advance fee loans: The caller poses as a representative from a financial institution and offers the person a pre-approved loan. The caller then asks that the person pay a fee to release the funds from the fictional loan.
- payment processor scam: The caller contacts someone and asks for help processing a payment. The person is promised a processing fee of 5% or 10% of the amount. The target of the scam is to receive the money into an account and then process the payment by forwarding the funds to another account. The first payment turns out to be fake, and the victim forwards his or her own money to another account and ultimately loses it.
Headlines in Palm Beach County often feature news about people accused of fraud. In May 2021, federal authorities charged three men who allegedly used their telemarketing company to coordinate a large health care fraud that involved kickbacks and money laundering. According to prosecutors, the defendants contacted Medicare recipients by phone and convinced some of them to order costly genetic tests. Allegedly, a complex web of kickbacks among the defendants, telemedicine companies, and labs produced millions in fraudulent Medicare claims.
A real-world example like this illustrates how a person embroiled in a federal investigation could end up charged with numerous federal crimes. Without legal advice from a West Palm Beach federal lawyer knowledgeable in both federal legal procedures and financial crimes, a defendant could be increasingly vulnerable to a lengthy prison sentence and restitution obligations.
Do not say anything that might incriminate you. Speak with an attorney first.
Penalties for telemarketing fraud
Sentences for people convicted of telemarketing crimes could include one or more of the following penalties:
- asset forfeiture
Federal telemarketing fraud cases typically impose multiple criminal charges, usually related to mail and wire fraud. Sentencing guidelines for those offenses include up to 20 years in prison, six-figure fines, and probation.
In addition to those possible penalties, telemarketing offenses that involve seniors call for enhanced sentences. This occurs because the federal government recognizes that frauds frequently target the elderly.
Enhanced telemarketing fraud penalties are:
- additional five years in prison if a victim was age 55 or older
- mandatory restitution
- mandatory forfeiture
- additional 10 years in prison if 10 or more victims were age 55 or older
Being convicted for one or more of these crimes could have devastating consequences. For this reason, a proactive and thorough defense becomes important.
Defense strategies focus on intent
To fulfill the legal definition of fraud, the deceptive act must have been done intentionally. In other words, the person knew that the activity included false information that could convince a person to transfer something of value.
Intent can be difficult to prove, and a fraud defense attorney will strive to raise reasonable doubts about how the prosecutor frames the case.
Federal criminal defense in Florida
If you have been arrested for telemarketing fraud, then you have an urgent need for legal guidance due to the potential for a harsh sentence. Joffe Law, P.A. has defended well over 1,200 federal criminal cases involving all types of white collar crimes and fraud.
Even prior to an arrest, you could benefit from our representation should you find yourself under investigation. Asserting your rights in the early stages of a federal inquiry could potentially divert prosecution altogether.
Whichever your situation, the threat of federal criminal charges requires that you proceed with care. To discuss your concerns and plan a defense, contact us for help in West Palm Beach, Florida today.