Fraud is a class of crimes characterized by the procurement of money or property by trickery or deception. While some people commit fraud with meaningful intent, some commit such crimes without even knowing they were in the wrong. Following are three ways you can commit fraud without even knowing it:
- Accepting overpayment of government benefits: If you are receiving unemployment benefits or funds from some other government program, there is a set amount you are entitled to receive defined by concrete parameters. In the event the government agency overpays you, it is your responsibility to return the overpaid amount. People who simply cash their check without paying close attention to the amount could be guilty of a crime.
- Failing to update your information with insurance companies: Certain changes in your life, such as moving to a different neighborhood or getting into a car accident, may warrant an increase in your insurance premiums. Failure to notify your insurance provider of these changes could constitute fraud.
- Making mistakes when filing your taxes: Taxes are complicated, and it’s easy to make innocent mistakes when filing your own tax paperwork. Whether the IRS views your mistake as innocent is another matter. Some common errors people make when filing their taxes include listing a child as a dependent when the child does not meet residency requirements and failing to give out 1099s (for employers) or save and report 1099s (for independent contractors).
Don’t try explaining yourself
If you have been accused of committing fraud, you should not make any statements about the matter to law enforcement officers (even if you know you are innocent). Anything you say can be used against you and a simple slip of the tongue could turn a minor issue into a full-blown legal crisis. Always talk with an experienced criminal law attorney at the earliest sign of trouble. You could save yourself a world of trouble by doing so.