A 10-year-old crime has finally been resolved in Minnesota. Just after the Great Recession of 2008, there were a lot of people looking to turn their investments back into liquid assets.
In particular, a group of investors tried to pull their cash out of a foreign exchange investment program in Minneapolis. Despite the fraudster’s assurance that money could be withdrawn whenever, he never returned any to his investors.
They sued him, but the money was gone, and his scheme imploded. The total amount lost to investors? More than $200 million.
This impressively illegal example of fraud is practically the definition of a Ponzi scheme — the crime, only unique in its size. In this post, we look at this and two other types of prevalent fraud crimes here in Minnesota.
Minnesota Ponzi (or Pyramid) Schemes
Ponzi schemes are also known as pyramid schemes. These programs promise impressive returns to investors but never actually make them any money.
A Ponzi scheme, named after 1920s scammer Charles Ponzi, pays initial investors with the money made off of new investors. Of course, the head of the scam is skimming off the top in most cases.
There is no capital or external source of funds, so these pyramid schemes fall apart the second anyone seriously tries to withdraw their money.
This kind of fraud is a gross misdemeanor in Minnesota and can land you a year behind bars, owing $3,000 in fines alone. Victims can then file civil lawsuits against you in order to receive compensation for their stolen funds.
Medical Fraud Charges in Minnesota
Medical fraud is another frequent style of fraud. It is taken particularly seriously, due to its potential effect on victims’ health.
Medical fraud can include abusive or willfully inaccurate billing practices and subjecting patients to unnecessary, expensive treatments. This is considered the defrauding of health care benefits, and it’s illegal under federal law — a violation of the False Claims Act.
Anyone who willfully attempts to defraud a health care benefit program commits a felony. The penalties include 10 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines per false claim.
When a false claim or procedure leads to someone’s serious injury, penalties rise to $20,000 and 20 years in jail. If the fraud leads to someone’s death, the scammer may face life in prison.
MN Credit and Debit Card Fraud
With how easy it is to lose control of your credit card information, credit and debit card fraud is at an all-time high. For this reason, when an offender is caught, the crime is usually punished to the full extent of Minnesota law.
Using someone’s card without permission, giving someone else access without permission, forging a credit card, or otherwise defrauding someone by way of a credit or debit card are all fraudulent acts.
- Penalties for this crime vary depending on the financial amounts involved. For crimes involving up to $2500, the penalties include up to five years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
- For credit card fraud amounts between $2500 and $35,000, the penalties rise to fines of $20,000 and a decade in prison.
- When amounts exceed $35,000, the fine maximum becomes $100,000 and the accused faces 20 years in prison.
Fraud is a violation of the financial system and the victims’ property rights. When dealing with fraud, your best option is always to find an experienced attorney.
Fighting these charges can be the difference between walking free and facing decades in prison. You deserve to have someone working on your side.
About the Author:
Christopher Keyser is a Minneapolis-based criminal and DWI defense attorney known for fighting aggressively for his clients and utilizing innovative tactics to get the most positive results. He has been featured in numerous media outlets due to the breadth and depth of his knowledge and recognized as a Minnesota Super Lawyers Rising Star (2014–2015), a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013–2015), and a Top 40 Under 40 Attorney (2013–2015).