Criminal Fraud

  • Is fraud a crime?
  • What is fraudulent intent?

For the most part, there is no single crime called “fraud.” However, fraud is an intrinsic part of a number of offenses, most notably those in the theft category. The early theft crime of larceny required a taking of property from the possession of another; therefore using deceit to take the property of another that had been entrusted to the offender was not punishable because it was not larceny. The crime of embezzlement was created to plug this loophole in theft law. Embezzlement is committed when the offender fraudulently converts the property of another, which is already in the offender’s possession. Fraudulent conversion occurs when the offender seriously interferes with the victim’s rights over the property by using it up, giving it away, unreasonably withholding possession from the victim, or seriously damaging the property with the intent to benefit himself and deprive the victim. Fraudulent intent requires a finding that the offender had the specific intent to deceive the victim, and mere negligence in the handling of the property will not sustain a conviction.

Fraud is also at the heart of the crime of false pretenses, which is committed when the offender knowingly makes a false representation of fact with the intent to cause the victim to pass title to his or her property to the offender. False pretenses requires a false representation; making misleading statements or merely remaining silent does not satisfy the requirement of a false misrepresentation. Neither are opinions enough to make a false representation; “In my opinion, your property is worthless,” is not a false representation for the purposes of the crime. The false representation must be about an important fact. A false statement about an unimportant fact generally will have little impact on the victim’s decision to complete the transaction, and therefore will not support a charge of false pretenses.

Fraud is an important part of the federal mail and wire fraud statutes. The scope of fraud under those statutes is broader than under embezzlement and false pretenses since it includes using tricks, schemes, or devices to defraud; therefore an unimportant misstatement can serve as one element of a scheme to defraud. In addition, the federal crimes can be charged when the offender secures a service through fraud, not just takes property. Other federal crimes that prohibit fraud protect the banking industry and stock market transactions. Statutes prohibit the use of fraud in obtaining government goods or services and the filing of fraudulent tax returns.

Client Reviews
"Mr. Steinberg provided my family with expert handling of my son's case. He took extra time understand the case, to consult with us during the pretrial proceedings, and to support him for a plea agreement. Mr. Steinberg is very knowledge about the law and very professional. He guided us in achieving the best possible outcome for my son. If I am ever in need of law services again, I will certainly have Mr. Steinberg handle my case. l also highly recommend his services to anyone that might be in need of an excellent defense attorney!" Tanya Witt
"I found myself in criminal trouble, that I wasn't guilty of and thanks to Mr. Steinberg's dedication and hard work, right before we we're looking at having to continue on to trial level Mr. Steinberg was able to use his vast knowledge of the law and his many respected years in the system to find a way to show my innocence. After a very unsure and somewhat difficult time for me, this very skilled and knowledgeable attorney was able to find the right path to take to reach a dismissal in my case. For that I can't tell you how much I appreciate his representation and his excellent understanding and helpful personality. He's a great man and an even better attorney but don't misunderstand him, he is an attorney not a therapist. Thanks H." Josh
"Working with Michael Steinberg was a wonderful experience. Truly people need to know that he is a expert in what he does. His personality is compassionate, intellectual, and down to earth. I glean that Michael is fun to be around. In the time I worked with him, it was a pleasure to be around him. As for my case, the outcome was amazing and couldn’t be better. He has made my life more manageable because of the outcome of my case. I’ve worked with other lawyers in the Denver area. He is superior to them all. If you’re in need of a lawyer and you come across Mr. Steinberg look no further he’s going to be the one you need. Thank you again Michael." Renee Taylor
Mr. Steinberg, It has been an honor working with you. I very much appreciated your style, demeanor, patience, and determination. I was well instructed in every step of the court process, and I felt that I received excellent guidance and timely information regarding my case. You have been extremely thoughtful with your time, and I was very impressed with your sensitivity in responding to my requests. Thank you. Anonymous