Articles Posted in Fraud

Internet fraud and impersonation are serious crimes that could result in heavy fines and incarceration. It is common in these cases for mistakes to be made and false accusations to lead to wrongful arrests. Anyone facing these serious allegations would be well-advised to speak to a skilled criminal defense attorney to begin building their defense.

In California, it is a crime to falsely impersonate another person online. It is illegal to “knowingly access and, without permission, alter, damage, delete, destroy, or otherwise use any data, computer, computer system, or computer network in order to devise or execute any scheme or artifice to defraud, deceive, or extort, or wrongfully control or obtain money, property, or data.”

A new California bill will expand the scope of this law. Victims of false impersonation will now have the right to further penalize the defendant. The new bill, S. B. 1411, will allow victims of false impersonation to file a civil lawsuit against the defendant. This means that anyone facing these serious allegations may face civil penalties in additional to the criminal penalties. With this new law, the stakes for someone facing these charges in Los Angeles will be tremendously increased. The defendant may not only face jail time and hefty fines after a criminal trial, but could also be held civilly liable in a separate civil proceeding.

A five-month-long sting operation in Orange County has resulted in 53 auto body repair workers, including 24 repair shop owners, being charged with insurance fraud. According to an OC Register article, “Operation Straight Body” was geared towards discovering automobile repair shops engaging in fraudulent insurance practices. Every arrested body shop worker and/or owner has been charged with one felony count of insurance fraud in Orange County.

While government officials state that the auto body shop sting operation in Orange County will help prevent taxpayers from paying hefty sums for fraud through higher insurance rates, many of the arrested individuals and some of their employers are skeptical about the procedures and legalities of the operation.

The sting operation revolved around Orange County District Attorney investigators pretending to be body shop customers. The undercover investigators apparently asked shop workers if they could repair new damage to a car in addition to damage sustained before the car was purchased – all under the same insurance estimate. Since insurance claims are not allowed to be filed for old damage, acquired before a policy has been issued, the body shop owners and employees who allegedly agreed to an undercover investigator’s request were arrested. However, they may be innocent. The actual wording used by the undercover investigator is extremely important. If all of the damage was to be paid by the alleged owner of the car or if the claim were to be paid by an insurance company allegedly for only one traffic collision, and if any misrepresentations were made by the investigator, this could cause all charges to be dismissed.
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