Shemaria Law Offices

Beverly Hills Federal Criminal Defense Law Blog

252-count indictment charges 80 people with internet fraud

An FBI investigation that has lasted almost three years has resulted in the indictment of 80 individuals for various kinds of fraud schemes. Almost all of the alleged crimes involve internet fraud. In announcing the indictments, the FBI's Los Angeles office called it one of the largest internet fraud schemes that it had ever seen.

According to the indictment, the alleged conspiracy involves mostly Nigerian nationals. Two of the named defendants are already in FBI custody, and 11 suspects have been arrested in Southern California. Six are fugitives already in the United States. A majority of the remaining defendants are believed to be living in Nigeria.

What should you know about facing insurance fraud charges?

A white collar criminal charge can change your life. While these crimes often do not seem as serious because they do not involve physical harm to an individual, the federal government takes this type of criminal activity very seriously. Insurance fraud is a type of white collar crime and often brings a federal charge, and if you are facing these charges, you would be wise to learn more about what you are up against.

Insurance fraud happens when someone files a claim that is actually false or exaggerates the services provided. Individuals can face insurance fraud charges, as can health care entities. The individual accused of this crime allegedly sought compensation for medical needs that never actually occurred. This is a type of theft, and while it may seem like a victimless crime, penalties can result in years behind bars.

Can a possession charge turn into a distribution charge?

California drug laws have changed quite a lot in the past five years, with the advent of legal recreational marijuana and Proposition 47's lowering of many drug possession penalties. Still, it would be a mistake to think that prosecutors do not take drug possession charges seriously.

Possession of many types of drugs other than marijuana can still carry hefty penalties, and possession of more than a certain amount of marijuana is still against the law. Possession of more than 28.5 grams of marijuana can carry a penalty of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $500.

Sentencing reform movement not fast enough for the accused

Criminal justice reform has been a hot topic in politics for years, and is becoming a big theme among the candidates vying for the Democratic Party nomination in the 2020 presidential election. Many of them have, among other proposals, called for an end to mandatory minimum sentencing for drug offenses.

Mandatory minimum sentence guidelines for people convicted of federal drug crimes were first implemented in the 1980s as part of an effort to fight drug abuse and the crimes related to it. Critics say the sentencing requirements have contributed to a ballooning of the nation's incarcerated population, which has grown almost 800% since 1980, according the American Bar Association.

High-profile figures build their defense in Theranos case

The upcoming trial of Elizabeth Holmes on fraud charges has turned into one of the most closely watched and hotly anticipated white collar crime cases of our time, a year before arguments are set to begin. The founder of science startup Theranos Inc., Holmes and former Theranos president Ramesh Balwani are accused of defrauding investors, falsifying test results and more.

Not long ago, Holmes was widely celebrated as a visionary young entrepreneur whose new blood-testing equipment was set to revolutionize medical technology. Investors flocked to her company, and in summer 2015, Theranos was valued at $10 billion. That all came crashing down after investigative journalists found former employees who said the company's much celebrated new technology didn't work, and that Holmes and Balwani lied to investors about it.

We can't always believe our lyin' eyes

"Yes, I will never forget his face," the eyewitness said as they identified the assailant who pulled the trigger, ending the victim's life. This is a scene out of a book by Jed S. Rakoff titled "Our Lying Eyes." Novels, movies and television programs show these pivotal courtroom scenes where the entire case comes to light and the guilty party is brought to justice. In these programs, it makes it seem like justice is so simple - black and white. But when it comes to eyewitness accounts, it isn't.  

What is securities fraud?

Fraud is a crime in which one person knowingly makes a false statement in order to gain something of value, and another person acts in reliance on that bad information. The harm lies in the reliance. If someone makes a false statement but no one acts on it, there's no crime to prosecute.

Securities fraud deals specifically with business, especially shares of a company. For instance, if the director of a company falsifies financial information in order to boost the company's stock price, and investors spend money based on that falsified information, prosecutors will argue that the director committed securities fraud.

College admissions scandal a case study in criminal defense

Since celebrity scandals are a huge driver of traffic on the internet, it should surprise no one that we've all seen piece after piece about the college admissions scandal that focus on the celebrity parents' alleged attempts to cheat the system. We've seen much less focus on the underlying legal issues-even though these could ultimately prove more interesting.

One exception was a March article in the Los Angeles Times that offered a take on the legal issues presented at the time. It reminded readers that legal cases aren't about public opinion, but about building legal arguments.

Man convicted on drug conspiracy charges

Criminal conspiracy charges are widely misunderstood. In federal court, they frequently appear alongside other charges in indictments involving alleged drug trafficking networks.

Recently, a Southern California man was convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. These charges carry a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison, and could carry as much as life in prison and a $10 million fine. Sentencing is scheduled for October.

Money laundering in real estate

Money laundering is a crime in which a party that has made a lot of money through illegal means seeks to conceal the nature and source of the funds by using them in another transaction that, at first glance, appears to be legitimate. Government agencies and professional groups say that people often try to conceal ill-gotten money through the real estate industry.

The National Association of Realtors identifies three stages of money laundering in real estate. The first is called placement: The party introduces illegally acquired money into the financial system through small deposits or purchases of money orders or other financial instruments. Next is layering, in which the party disguises the origin of the money through other transactions. Finally, the integration stage returns the money to the original party's control.

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