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Financial Fraud

What is Fraud?

Fraud is broadly defined as intentionally deceiving a person for unlawful gain. The offender might claim to be someone else, claim to have authority that he does not actually have, offer a service without actually providing said service, or claim that false information is actually true. In addition to making false claims, a person can also commit fraud by omitting certain information that leads to false representation of material fact.

Fraud often results in a significant financial loss to the victim, which may be an individual, an organization, a state government, or the federal government.

Some examples of fraud are as follows: credit card fraud, identity theft, forgery, tax fraud, healthcare fraud, and financial fraud. Some of these types of fraud are covered in other sections, but a more detailed overview of financial fraud is found below.

What is Financial Fraud?

According to RCW §9A.56.320, there are five types of financial fraud:

  1. Unlawful Production of Payment Instruments: A person is guilty of unlawful production of payment instruments if he prints a check or other type of payment instrument in the name of a person or entity, or with that party's routing number or account number without that party's permission.
  2. Unlawful Possession of Payment Instruments: A person is guilty of unlawful possession of payment instruments if he possesses two or more checks or other payment instruments, alone or in combination:
    1. In the name of a person or entity, or with that party's routing number or account number, without that party's permission, and with the intent either to deprive the person of possession of such payment instrument or to commit theft, forgery, or identity theft; or
    2. In the name of a fictitious person or entity, or with a party's fictitious routing number or account number, with the intent to use the payment instruments to commit theft, forgery, or identity theft.
  3. Unlawful Possession of a Personal Identification Device: A person is guilty of unlawful possession of a personal identification device if the person possesses a personal identification device with the intent to use such device to commit theft, forgery, or identity theft. "Personal identification device" refers to a device that is used to make or print ID cards that are issued by the state, U.S. government or an employer.
  4. Unlawful Possession of Fictitious Identification: A person is guilty of unlawful possession of fictitious identification if the person possesses a personal identification card with a fictitious person's identification with the intent to use such identification card to commit theft, forgery, or identity theft.
  5. Unlawful Possession of Instruments of Financial Fraud: A person is guilty of unlawful possession of instruments of financial fraud if the person possesses a check-making machine, equipment, or software, with the intent to use or distribute checks for purposes of defrauding an account holder, business, financial institution, or any other person or organization.
Penalties for Financial Fraud in Washington:

Financial fraud is a class C felony, which RCW §9A.20.021 defines as punishable by up to five years in prison, a maximum fine of $10,000, or both.

Defending a Financial Fraud Charge:

When a person is charged with fraud, prosecutors need to prove that the defendant actually had intent to defraud or steal from another person. However, it might be possible to show that no such intent existed or that there is a lack of evidence that proves your guilt. Your defense strategy is crucial, and the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney is strongly advised.

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