Fraud is the act of deliberately deceiving another individual or group in order to secure an unfair or unlawful personal gain at the expense of that party. Fraud can be a civil and or a criminal offense. Civil action can be brought against a person who has committed fraud in order to seek compensation for the damages caused by the fraud. Fraud is also considered a white collar crime that is taken very seriously by the federal government and all fifty states.
A white collar crime is an offense that takes place in a professional or business setting. Many white collar crimes are fraud crimes, though there are additional crimes that fall under this category. There are many different types of fraud that are illegal in the United States, most of which fall under these general categories: consumer fraud, employment fraud, and fraud that is committed by a consumer against a business or government institution.
Most types of fraud are considered felony crimes that are aggressively prosecuted in the criminal justice system. A person who is convicted of fraud may face incarceration, punitive fines, restitution, probation, community service, and other penalties. The consequences for fraud will depend on the nature, scope, and severity of the offense, whether the fraud was committed by an individual or group, and the state or federal laws that apply to the case.
Consumer fraud has taken center stage in the minds of many consumers, policy makers, and businesses nationwide. The government estimates that more than twenty-five million Americans- or eleven percent of the population- are the victims of consumer fraud every year. With advances in internet technology, the crimes of internet fraud, credit card fraud, identity theft, and similar crimes can be carried out with greater ease and anonymity than ever before. Other consumer fraud crimes can include: securities fraud, mail fraud, telemarketing fraud, and more.
Employment, or occupational fraud is defined as, "a clandestine activity that violates an employee's fiduciary duties to the company or the company's customers or clientele. Embezzlement, trade secret fraud, larceny and other crimes are common types of employment fraud. Occupational fraud can also include criminal fraud committed by public officials such as bribery, public corruption, and government fraud.
Fraud can also be carried out by individuals with the intent to deceive a business or government institution. These types of fraud can include insurance fraud, tax evasion, counterfeiting, healthcare fraud, bankruptcy fraud, fraud relating to government social programs (like Medicare and Social security) and more.