Articles Posted in Fraud

The Covid-19 pandemic ushered in government benefit programs aimed at relieving the economic burdens the pandemic and the resulting lockdowns caused to individuals and businesses.  Among those benefits was the Employee Retention Credit (ERC). Individuals and employers are being warned that making false claims for an ERC credit will and has resulted in criminal charges.

The ERC program was created to help small businesses reduce the employment tax they owed as a set-off for partial or full suspension of their business due to Covid-19. The credit is tied to employee wages paid by the business. The ERC program is complex and requires that a business’ eligibility fall within certain guidelines.

The program has been plagued with fraud and scams. Small businesses and individuals have fraudulently claimed this credit while others have fallen prey, wittingly or unwittingly, to unscrupulous enterprises who aggressively advertise as “advisors” who will assist employers, sole proprietors, and independent contractors to claim the ERC. In other cases, individuals have made false claims for nonexistent businesses. According to the IRS, thousands of ERC claims have been referred for audit and 252 criminal investigations into possible fraudulent ERC claims have been initiated.

Equifax Breach: A Cybercrime That Affected Millions of Americans

You have probably heard about the Equifax breach by now. As far as identity theft crimes goes, this was a big one. An estimated 143 million people in the United States may have had their personal information compromised when cybercriminals gained access to the Equifax database, which included social security numbers and driver’s license numbers.

The breach took place from mid-May to July and although it was discovered on July 27, Equifax did not reveal this breach to the public until September 7. It is estimated that over 50% of those with a credit bureau report was affected.

Zulmai Nazarzai was never convicted of a crime; he was never even charged with a crime. Yet he has been sitting in solitary confinement in the Orange County jail for six years now. That is a long time to spend in solitary confinement.

In 2010, the California attorney general filed a civil lawsuit against Mr. Nazarzai accusing him of running a boiler-room telemarketing scam that bilked elderly people to the tune of $2 million. This was a civil lawsuit; the attorney general did not charge Mr. Nazarzai with any criminal acts. The attorney general won the civil suit and Mr. Nazarzai was ordered to pay a hefty sum of $4 million in penalties and restitution. It was known to the attorney general that Mr. Nazarzai had withdrawn $360,540 from his business bank account. The judge who made the restitution order, ordered Mr. Nazarzai to turn over those funds.

Mr. Nazarzai told the judge he did not have the money. He actually told the judge some absurd story about how the money was lost. The judge called his story incredulous and held Mr. Nazarzai in contempt of court for willful disobedience of the court’s order. (Code of Civil Procedure §1209 (a)(5))

Insurance fraud is any act committed with the intent to obtain a fraudulent outcome from an insurance process. This may occur when a claimant attempts to obtain some benefit or advantage to which they are not otherwise entitled, or when an insurer knowingly denies some benefit that is due.

The most common act of insurance fraud is when an insured individual or entity makes a false or exaggerated insurance claim, seeking compensation for injuries or losses that were not actually suffered. But it’s not just individuals committing fraud against insurance companies; insurance fraud is also committed against individuals. A couple of examples of this are: (1) the sale of unlicensed or bogus insurance to an individual and (2) an insurance broker or agent’s diversion or theft of insurance premiums paid by individuals.

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Identity Theft

Identity theft is defined in Penal Code 530.5 and is described as follows:

  • The willful taking of someone’s personal identity information for the purpose of securing credit, money, services or property, in their name for your benefit, without their consent.

Medical overbilling is a crime often overlooked by prosecuting agencies, probably because most insurance companies focus on overt, long-term acts of outright medical insurance fraud, where no services at all are rendered, or, as in the Unity case, unnecessary procedures were performed.

But charges were filed against several chiropractors and one lawyer today. Not too many details were revealed in this case, but it seems the chiros were billing for treatments that were never performed, on undercover DA investigators. A paralegal was charged with processing the claims and acting as a lawyer in the process.

If the over-billing can be documented, then there isn’t much to say about it, other than for the defendant to get out his checkbook if he doesn’t want to go to prison. But, the paralegal who was charged may have a valid defense that he wasn’t practicing law, merely assisting the attorney for whom he worked.

Whether you or a loved one has been charged with fraud, you should contact a qualified Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney to assist you with legal counsel.

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Can the tissue-thin fabric of Homeland Security withstand another tear in it? The Orange County Register reported today that federal authorities arrested Eamon Higgins on charges that he was illegally helping some Arabs take college exams in order to extend their visas in the United States.

Seems Mr. ‘iggins would earn about eleven hundred dollars per test, sometimes even more when he attended class for his “students”. Wow. Can I option this story for my Movie of the Week, entitled, “How to Succeed in Education Without Even Showing Up”?

This reeks of a terrorist plot to me. Bet that the Feds are kicking over all the rocks on this one. Fraud of this nature is apparently rarely discovered. What’s funny is that the kind of fraud discovered here happens every day at the DMV, the heartland of immigrant fraud in California. Fraud can be prosecuted as a felony or a misdemeanor. In simple cases of ID fraud, there is probation and fines. In the more sophisticated cases like this one, jail or prison time is assured.

Fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or damage to another and comes in many different forms. Since these are serious crimes that Higgins has been charged with, he will need an experienced fraud defense attorney to assist him. Whether you live in Irvine, Brea or Santa Ana, if you have been charged with fraud, call an experienced criminal defense attorney to assist you.

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John Arther Walthall, of Laguna Beach, was arrested last week for defrauding a Laguna Niguel elderly couple out of $4.7 million dollars.Walthall told this couple that he had invested his own money in a gold mining business and it had been very profitable for him. The couple gave millions of dollars to him to invest and instead, Walthall used it for his own personal expenses. He paid for his child’s tuition, alimony, and child support and bought gold coins and cars. After getting caught, he has been charged with nine counts of wire fraud, money laundering, and other charges. If convicted of all of these crimes, he faces 150 years in federal prison.

Fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or damage to another and comes in many different forms. Money laundering is the act of making huge amounts of money through illegal means and then claiming the money came from a legitimate source. Conning people out of money to invest in a fictitious business is a serious crime. If convicted, Walthall will have to spend his life in prison and will be ordered to pay back as much of the money as possible. Since these are serious crimes that Walthall has been charged with, he will need an experienced fraud defense attorney to assist him. Whether you live in Tustin, Brea or Villa Park, if you have been charged with fraud, call an experienced criminal defense attorney to assist you.

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Bethany Jane Brady worked as a bookkeeper for the Hampton Salon in Newport Beach for 15 years. During that time, she allegedly embezzled over $245,000 from the company. Police think that initially, she took money from the salon’s checking account and paid off her bills. Eventually, she started taking money and putting it into her personal bank account to use. The loss was discovered when the salon was audited. Hampton Salon immediately fired her and police arrested her.

Embezzlement is a type of fraud that involves taking something from someone that has been entrusted to you. Possible defenses include false accusations, lack of intent, or claim of right. Whether you live in Irvine, Anaheim or Laguna Beach, if you are charged with fraud, call an experienced criminal defense attorney to assist you.

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