A NYC Criminal Defense Attorney Explains Telephone Fraud
Telephone fraud is a broad term used to describe a wide variety of different illegal behaviors. Phone scams can involve using the phone to contact someone to trick that individual into parting with money or disclosing personal details or financial information. Mobile phone fraud can also involve dishonest behavior in relation to the actual use of cellular phones.
No matter what type of phone fraud you are accused of being involved with, you could face a variety of criminal charges on the state level or on the federal level. Bukh Law Firm, PLLC provides legal representation to clients accused of all types of criminal behaviors related to phone use and we have a long history of successfully helping clients to reduce jail time or avoid criminal consequences altogether. Every case is different, so you need to get personalized guidance in relation to the charges you are facing. Give our NYC criminal law firm a call today to learn more.
What are Telephone Scams?
Telephone scams often take the form of using the phone to perpetrate various types of fraud. Examples can include:
- Investment fraud or boiler room fraud: Cold calling is used to find investors who become the victims of microcap fraud, pre-IPO investment fraud, Ponzi schemes, or other types of investment fraud. The call recipients are promised valuable investments or great rates of return for investment that don’t exist or that won’t deliver promised benefits.
- Charity fraud: Investors are asked to make donations to fake charities, or to real charities but the money is never actually given to the charitable organization
- Travel fraud: Investors are promised great vacation deals for small amounts of money to cover fees or taxes on a vacation prize or membership in a travel club. No vacation occurs or the fees end up being much higher than promised.
- IRS telephone scams: Call recipients are warned of dire actions by the IRS (like property seizures) to collect back tax debt, in order to convince the recipient to pay immediately by purchasing a pre-paid debit or credit card. The calls don’t actually come from the IRS.
These are just a few of many different ways in which telemarketing fraud takes place. Any time the telephone is used to contact someone for purposes of using materially misleading or making false statements to obtain money, this is a criminal act.
Phone number scams are also common, and involve making a different phone number appear on a call recipient’s caller ID. The recipient of the call may believe he is being called by a close relative, such as a grandchild, because the caller ID data is being manipulated. The call recipient is then convinced to provide money or financial details.
What is Mobile Phone Fraud?
Mobile phone fraud differs from other types of telephone scams, because the scam may actually involve the use of the cell phone as an integral part of the fraud rather than just as a means of communicating misleading information. For example, mobile phone fraud could include:
- Signing up for a cell phone package using someone else’s identifying details. This is a form of identity theft.
- Stolen or lost cell phones: Cell phones that have been lost or stolen are mined for personal details, which are then used to steal the phone owner’s identity. Unauthorized calls can also be made on stolen or lost phones.
- Cloning: This involves making calls using a cloned cell phone created using information obtained from another person’s phone. The alleged victim’s phone is cloned so his account is used without the phone owner’s authorization.
- Ringtone scams: Cell phone owners are invited to download ringtones, which contain viruses that collect personal information. Phone owners may also find themselves inadvertently signed up as members of a “club” that has reoccurring ongoing monthly charges after they downloaded a ringtone.
- Fake text message scams: Phone owners are told via text about an account being suspended and the text recipient is required to text back with certain financial or identifying details to fix the issue. The text is a scam.
In these and other situations where cell phones are part of a scam, defendants may find themselves the target of a federal investigation.
Penalties for Participation in a Phone Scam
The Wireless Telephone Protection Act of 1998 criminalized a wide variety of behaviors related to mobile phone fraud, including the use, possession, manufacture, or sale of cloning hardware or software. A first offense can result in a fine and a 15-year term of imprisonment.
Defendants also face a wide variety of other charges for various criminal activities they may be accused of involvement with in connection with phone fraud, including identity theft offenses and crimes related to fraudulent misrepresentation. Because a defendant can be indicted on multiple counts and potentially face decades of imprisonment, it is imperative that defendants respond aggressively when under investigation or faced with charges for involvement in telephone scams.
How a NYC Telephone Fraud Lawyer Can Help
A NYC telephone fraud lawyer can provide invaluable assistance in cases where defendants are accused of violating laws related to illegal telemarketing or mobile phone scams. Call today to speak with a criminal defense attorney at Bukh Law Firm, PLLC to find out how our New York-based criminal defense firm can help.