It can be hard to get ahead in life financially, especially if you started out with limited resources, have a lot of debt from school or have multiple dependents, like ailing parents or young children. Some people try to get creative in their efforts to generate income and obtain financial security.
The drive to make money can inspire some people to break the law and commit financial fraud. There are many kinds of financial fraud, ranging from intentionally writing bad checks to trying to make withdrawals from an account that they don’t own. Some people even print their own checks with a business’s routing number and checking account number because they imagine such fraud will go unnoticed.
Getting accused of financial fraud could mean that you face not only legal consequences like jail time but also financial consequences like a court order to repay the businesses or individuals affected. The penalties and the severity of the criminal record increase when the federal government and not the state prosecutes the person involved. When do those charges become federal offenses?
Pennsylvania and the federal government have overlapping laws against fraud
Financial fraud has been around for as long as people have used money, but it has certainly become far more sophisticated due to modern financial practices. The laws about financial misconduct and trickery have expanded to include digital issues and modern banking concerns, like fraudulent use of credit cards at random websites.
There are federal laws that define and establish criminal charges for financial fraud, as well as Pennsylvania state laws that regulate everything from misrepresenting yourself to intentionally writing bad checks.
Prosecution or jurisdiction often depends primarily on who discovered the fraud, how it gets reported or the location of the victims.
Bigger, more complicated fraud schemes could lead to federal charges
Any form of financial fraud that involves a federally insured banking institution or a violation of federal financial laws could result in federal prosecution.
The greater the amount of money involved in the fraud and the higher the number of total victims, the more likely the federal government is to investigate or to take responsibility for prosecution. Additionally, for fraud involving wire transfers or victims from out of the state, federal prosecution may be more likely than state prosecution.
Anyone accused of financial fraud, whether it involves wire transfers, paper checks, lying on mortgage applications or even money laundering, will face serious penalties and have a lot of evidence to review if they hope to defend themselves.