Frauds and scams both involve using deception or manipulation to gain something for yourself, usually money or property, and therefore unfairly deprive another person of what rightfully belongs to them.
Some forms of fraud have been designated by federal and state governments as criminal offenses. These offenses may carry prison sentences and large fines, depending on the value of what was taken from the victim. Fraud and scams, both criminal and non-criminal, can also be civil wrongs, meaning that perpetrators of scams and fraudulent schemes can be taken to court and sued for monetary damages by their victims.
If you have been involved in or accused of having been involved in any form of fraud, it is important to seek the advice of an experienced Texas white-collar crime attorney immediately.
Continue reading to learn about some of the most common forms of fraud and scams in Texas that you should look out for.
One of the most common types of scams involve scammers attempting to steal your personal information via telephone. The phone calls may come from robocalls or from real people.
Some examples of telephone scams include:
- The scammer tells you that your social security number has been compromised.
- The scammer claims to be from the IRS, and says that you owe tax money.
The scammer claims that someone is suing you, but demands money over the phone.
- The scammer tells you that you will go to jail if you don’t pay them a fine.
- The scammer tells you that you have won some sort of lottery, sweepstakes, or other free money.
- The scammer tells you that you are being awarded a government grant.
- The scammer offers to invest your money for you.
Fake charities and non-profit organizations tend to spring up in large numbers during disasters.
Charity scams may use the following tactics:
- Rushing you into making a donation.
- Thanking you for a donation you never made to trick or guilt you into making a payment.
- Using names that sound similar to the names of real charities.
- Guaranteeing sweepstakes winnings in exchange for a donation. (This is illegal, and a legitimate charity would never make such a promise.)
- Claiming that your donation is tax deductible when it is not.
- Making vague and sentimental claims, but never actually specifying what your donation will be used for.
Investment scams usually promise high returns for low or no risk. There are many types of investment scams, including:
- Ponzi schemes. Fraudulent investors take your money under the pretence that they will invest it on your behalf, but never follow through on investing it. Instead, they keep a portion of the money for themselves and use money taken from other unsuspecting clients to “produce” returns.
- Advance fee fraud. Scammers ask for an upfront fee before they will provide you with any returns or profits.
- Pump and dump schemes. An individual pumps up the value of stocks they own by getting others to invest in the same stocks, then dumps all of their own stocks back into the market once the value has risen, resulting in a large profit for themselves, but large losses for the other investors.
- Binary options fraud. The payout of an investment depends on the outcome of a yes-or-no proposition, such as whether or not the market value will rise above a certain amount. The investor either receives the entire payout amount or nothing at all.
There are multiple types of banking scams, but the goal of this kind of scam is to get access to your bank accounts. Some of the most common banking scams include:
- Overpayment scams. In an overpayment scam, a scammer will send you a counterfeit check and ask for you to wire part of the total amount back to them. However, because the check was fake, you will owe your bank the value of the check, and you will lose the money you sent to the scammer.
- Unsolicited check fraud. Similarly, a scammer may send you a check for no reason, without your knowledge or consent. If you cash the check, you may be authorizing a loan you didn’t sign up for, or the purchase of products you do not want.
- Automatic withdrawals. A company will ask you to set up automatic payments from your bank account before qualifying for a free trial of a service. When you cancel the automatic transfers before the end of the trial period, the company will continue to take money from your bank account.
- Phishing. Someone sends you an email asking you to verify your bank account details or debit card number.
Ticket Sales Scams
In a ticket selling scam, a scammer will entice a victim into handing over their money using a ticket to an event. This kind of scam is especially common when an event is sold out. Victims of a ticket selling scam may show up to an event only to find out that the ticket they purchased is fake, or may never receive a ticket from the fake buyer at all.
Ticket scams are conducted by both individuals and entire fake companies. They may:
- Charge prices much higher than the original value of the ticket.
- Sell duplicates of a legitimate ticket.
- Pretend to sell a ticket as a front to steal credit card information.
- Create counterfeit tickets, using forged barcodes and logos of real, well-known ticket companies to make the fake product more convincing.
Discussing Your Case with a Texas Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with criminal offenses you need to discuss your case with a Texas criminal defense lawyer who has experience handling white collar crime cases. Broden & Mickelsen, LLP provides aggressive and ethical representation to individuals and businesses accused of criminal offenses. The firm accomplishes this through its unique team approach to criminal defense, which involves both partners actively participating in the case.
To achieve a favorable resolution, we evaluate each case individually and utilize all the resources available. The Texas Board of Legal Specialization has certified criminal defense attorneys Clint Broden and Mick Mickelsen as experts in criminal law for trials and appeals.