A NY Defense Lawyer Explains Cross-Border Fraud Cases
In 2012, President Barack Obama signed a bill reauthorizing the Safe Web Act. The Safe Web Act was originally passed in 2006 to give U.S. Federal authorities broad powers to conduct investigations into cross-border fraud that occurs using the Internet. The Safe Web Act will now be in effect until at least 2020. From 2006 to 2012, it facilitated more than 100 investigations into foreign targets perpetrating cross-border scams and it resulted in the filing of more than 50 cases with cross-border aspects.
When crimes are allegedly committed that cross the borders of the U.S. and that involve perpetrators in foreign countries, there are many challenges associated with prosecution. U.S. authorities may need to extradite those who have been accused of wrongdoing and/or may need to prove jurisdictional authority to pursue cases against alleged wrongdoers for international fraud. Bukh Law Firm, PLLC has provided extensive assistance to both individuals in the U.S. and individuals outside of the country who have been accused of involvement with scams that cross country lines. To learn more about how we can assist you in fighting charges or responding to an investigation, give us a call.
What is Cross-Border Fraud?
Cross-border fraud broadly refers to any scams that reach across national boundaries. From 2006 to 2011, almost 500,000 consumers in the U.S. complained about transactions in which more than $1.4 billion was paid to foreign businesses. Fraud scams take many forms, but the general overreaching goal is for the scammer(s) outside the country to obtain items of value through running some type of scheme on people within the United States.
Most types of cross-border fraud involve getting someone to send money outside of the United States through instant and untraceable wire transfers, or getting someone to send merchandise outside of the United States where it cannot be recovered. There are different approaches taken to facilitate the fraudulent transfer of money and assets outside of the United States, but whenever false or misleading statements are made about material facts involved in a transaction, the transaction may be considered fraudulent.
Types of Cross-Border Fraud
Cross border fraud or international fraud scams come in many different forms, but some of the most common include:
- Reshipping. Items are purchased with stolen credit cards or other stolen funds and are sent to U.S. consumers, who then repackage and ship the items overseas. The re-shippers are often found through business opportunity or work at home scams, where individuals are offered jobs that they believe are legitimate employment positions but that actually involve mailing stolen items.
- Advance fee fraud: Advance fee fraud scams usually involve a promise to send money or to allow participation in a special deal, in exchange for the payment of an upfront fee. After the money from the upfront fee is sent to the scammer, the promised money or deal never materializes. Fake foreign lotteries or sweepstakes are common methods of perpetrating advance fee fraud. A “winner” is told that he or she must pay taxes or processing fees to receive lottery funds, which never come.
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- Romance scams or mail order bride scams. Scammers create the pretext of a romantic relationship, and then find a way to ask for money. The scammer may ask for money to pay for a ticket to visit, or money to pay for rent or other essential expenses.
- Money muling scams. This international fraud scheme involves getting someone to cash a fraudulent check or to accept the transfer of funds that come from an account without authorization from the actual account owner. The person who deposited the check or funds is told to wire some or all of the money using MoneyGram, WesternUnion or another method that allows for instant and untraceable transfers. The money is sent, and it is not until after the money is gone that it becomes apparent the check or transfer was fraudulent.
- Work-at-home scam Consumers are enticed by job opportunities or online job scams to provide their personal information (making identity theft possible) or are enticed to send money for job opportunities that do not materialize.
These are just some of the many different kinds of cross border scams that a defendant could be charged for becoming involved with. Any fraud scheme intended to result in unjust enrichment or to result in someone else being deprived of property or assets may be considered a cross border scheme if it occurs internationally.
Penalties for Cross-Border Fraud
The U.S. federal government can press charges for serious criminal penalties when cross-border fraud occurs. The government, however, faces challenges in international fraud cases because the government cannot just come to foreign countries in order to arrest scammers. Unless the U.S. is able to negotiate for extradition or unless you come to the United States and are arrested, the U.S. government is unlikely to be able to take any action against foreigners in other countries who perpetrate scams.
If you are subject to arrest and prosecution in the U.S., the charges you face could lead to significant prison time. The specifics of the charges will vary depending upon exactly what type of international fraud you are accused of becoming involved in. There are many computer and Internet fraud crimes you could be charged with, and you could also be charged with identity theft, mail fraud, and other federal offenses related to the specifics of your actions.
Federal criminal laws impose harsh sentences for crimes involving fraud, especially when the postal or wire services are used or when a financial institution is defrauded. A charge of mail fraud alone carries a maximum 20 year prison sentence, or a maximum 30 year sentence for defrauding a financial institution using the U.S. postal service.
How a NY Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
A NY criminal defense lawyer can help you fight extradition and fight to avoid being held accountable in U.S. courts. Your attorney can also help you to try to reduce charges through the negotiation of a plea deal, or can assist you in defending yourself in court. If you are tried in the United States, you are entitled to protections guaranteed in the Constitution including due process, even if you are not a U.S. Citizen.
Contact Bukh Law Firm, PLLC today to learn more about how a NY criminal defense lawyer can help you to protect your rights and fight to avoid serious penalties in court.