Since its founding in 1849, Las Cruces has grown into the second-largest city in New Mexico, as well as the major geographical and economic hub of Mesilla Valley. Along the way, Las Cruces has also become the crossroads of various types of fraud crimes. Given the lasting repercussions of a fraud conviction — fines, imprisonment, and collateral reputational harm — it is crucial to have an aggressive Las Cruces criminal fraud defense attorney in your corner.
Benjamin Law Firm is a premier New Mexico criminal defense practice that regularly handles fraud crimes in Las Cruces. Founding attorney Brock Benjamin has a well-established reputation as one of the finest trial lawyers in the Southwest, having served clients in Texas for over a decade. Mr. Benjamin brings to bear formidable litigation skills and a proven ability to handle the most complex fraud cases.
As a former prosecutor, he is well-acquainted with tactics the government uses to investigate fraud crimes and gain convictions. Our legal team has in-depth knowledge of the applicable statutes governing a variety of fraud crimes in Las Cruces, as well as the rules of evidence and criminal procedure in the New Mexico and federal courts.
If you have been accused of fraud, you need the informed representation we provide. We have developed proven strategies for defending clients against fraud charges and will work to protect your freedom and your future. When you consult with us, we will explain all your rights, weigh the evidence against you, and choose the best line of defense.
Because fraud cases are typically investigated long before charges are filed, and because prosecutors have broad surveillance powers, defendants are often at a significant disadvantage. At Benjamin Law Firm, we will leverage our skills and experience to level the playing field and achieve the best possible outcome for you.
Our objective is to win an acquittal, clear your name, and help you preserve your freedom. The sooner you contact our office, the sooner we can mount an aggressive defense against your fraud charges. Please reach out to our office today to speak with an experienced New Mexico fraud defense attorney.
The Most Common Types of Fraud in Las Cruces, New Mexico
Fraud involves any scheme aimed at deliberately deceiving another person in an attempt to gain something of value, typically money or property, or to deprive the victim of a legal right to that property. Benjamin Law Firm regularly and effectively handles the most common fraud crimes in Las Cruces, such as:
Banks in Las Cruces are the target of all types of fraud schemes. Bank fraud generally occurs when a person uses illegal means to obtain money from a bank and may involve loan fraud, forgery, stolen checks, or bank impersonation.
Loan fraud is one of the common types of bank fraud and can be committed by individuals and businesses that submit false or inaccurate financial information to a financial institution to secure financing. Moreover, technological advances have made it fairly easy to carry out bank fraud via the internet by creating or using a website to pose as a bank to fraudulently obtain depositors’ money.
In sum, bank fraud is a federal offense and a conviction may mean spending up to 30 years in prison, along with steep financial penalties and probation. With so much at stake, it is crucial to have an aggressive New Mexico bank fraud defense attorney in your corner.
In the present economic environment, the number of personal and business bankruptcy filings is likely to rise significantly; and prosecutors will be on the lookout for an uptick in bankruptcy fraud, which they take very seriously. Bankruptcy fraud involves knowingly acting in violation of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code through a variety of illegal acts.
As an example, a bankruptcy filer may attempt to conceal assets to avoid forfeiture by transferring undisclosed assets to relatives, friends, or business associates. This is referred to as “fraudulent conveyance.” Similarly, providing false or misleading information to the bankruptcy court is a common offense with significant consequences.
In any event, a conviction for bankruptcy fraud in Las Cruces can result in 5 years in federal prison and up to $250,000 in fines. At Benjamin Law Firm, we know how to assert a number of defenses against bankruptcy fraud and will work hard to refute the prosecutor’s evidence or offer an alternative explanation, such as a legitimate mistake in the filing.
Credit Card Fraud
Credit card fraud, a common form of identity theft, occurs when a credit card, debit card, or personal credit information is used to make unauthorized purchases or fund withdrawals to avoid payment.
This type of fraud may involve submitting fraudulent credit applications or using lost or stolen credit cards. One common type of credit card scam is known as “skimming.” which occurs when data is lifted from the card’s magnetic stripe from a merchant’s card reader or a stand-alone ATM. Another credit card scheme occurs when personal information is stolen in an email or “phishing” scam.
While credit card fraud can be charged at the state level, a credit card fraud scheme involving significant sums of money or interstate activity can result in federal charges. In both cases, it takes a skilled Las Cruces credit card fraud defense attorney to protect your rights.
Healthcare fraud involves submitting false or misleading information to a health insurer, Medicare, or Medicaid to recover payment for healthcare services. Healthcare fraud is vigorously prosecuted in New Mexico, particularly in the mental health and drug treatment industry. Examples include:
- Billing for services not provided
- Administering unnecessary services
- Billing for a more costly service than performed (upcoding)
- Billing each stage of a procedure as a separate procedure (unbundling)
Submitting false claims to Medicare/Medicaid can result in both state and federal charges. At the federal level, healthcare fraud can be prosecuted under a variety of statutes, including the False Claims Act, the Anti-Kickback Statute, the Stark Law, and the Criminal Health Care Fraud Statute. The New Mexico Medicaid Fraud Control Unit collaborates with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ (HHS), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and other federal law enforcement agencies on healthcare fraud investigations. The only way to fight back is to have an aggressive healthcare fraud defense attorney by your side.
Identity theft/identity fraud is one of the fastest-growing white-collar crimes in Las Cruces, New Mexico as well as in the nation. This act of fraud occurs when someone illegally uses another individual’s personal information (name, date of birth, Social Security Number, credit history, PIN numbers) for personal gain. Such information can be obtained through stolen wallets, purses, mail, or through electronic fraud, such as “phishing,” which involves obtaining personal information through false emails and websites.
Depending on the circumstances, identity theft can be charged as a 4th-degree felony in New Mexico, which is punishable by up to 18 months in prison, fines, and restitution. Identity theft is also a violation of the federal Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act, which can result in additional charges and penalties. If you have been arrested on identity theft charges, it takes an experienced Las Cruces identity theft defense lawyer to protect your rights and your freedom.
Insurance companies in New Mexico can be defrauded when a person or business intentionally or knowingly (i) presents a false claim for payment, (ii) provides false, incomplete, or misleading information concerning a claim, (iii) submits a false application to obtain an insurance policy or (iv) conceals information regarding an insurance application or claim.
The most common insurance fraud schemes in Las Cruces Texas include:
- Stolen Car — An owner sells his or her car to a body shop (or “chop shop”) for parts and then reports the car stolen, or an owner sells a car overseas, without any paperwork, and then reports it stolen.
- Staged Car Accident — A driver and an accident “victim” stage a collision to recover money for damages under an automobile insurance policy.
- Staged Home Fire — A homeowner sets fire to or vandalizes his or her home, or hires someone to do so, to file a claim under a homeowners insurance policy
Insurance fraud can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony in New Mexico, depending on the value of the loss. If the actual or potential loss is more than $20,000, for example, insurance fraud is considered a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 9 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. When your freedom is on the line, it is crucial to work with an experienced Las Cruces insurance fraud defense attorney.
Fraudulent telemarketing schemes are becoming increasingly common in Las Cruces, which involves violating the trust of unsuspecting victims over the phone; older people who are infirm and/or isolated are especially vulnerable. Telemarketing scams typically involve callers posing as bank or credit card employees, charities calling for donations, or others seeking to obtain personal information, money, or property from the targeted individual.
Telemarketing fraud is considered a misdemeanor if the value of loss or property is less than $500, but charged as a felony of various degrees for amounts over $500. Because the federal government has jurisdiction over national telecommunications networks, you may also face federal felony charges as well as mail fraud and wire fraud charges. Ultimately, working with an experienced telemarketing fraud defense can mean the difference between preserving your freedom and serving a lengthy prison sentence.
The Experienced Choice in Las Cruces Fraud Defense
If you’ve been charged with any of the above-mentioned fraud offenses in Las Cruces, don’t go up against state or federal prosecutors alone. The government has vast financial resources and powerful teams of attorneys and investigators to rely on to gain convictions in fraud cases. At Benjamin Law Firm, we have the tools to mount an aggressive defense and the determination to fight back.
Because fraud cases typically involve vast amounts of data and financial information, it takes a highly adept white-collar crime attorney to prepare an effective defense. When the need arises, we collaborate with financial professionals and forensic accountants to challenge the prosecution’s evidence and find alternative explanations for any alleged misconduct.
In addition to defending clients against the common forms of fraud in Las Cruces, we have seen countless fraud cases involving:
- Check fraud occurs when a person falsely makes, alters, forges, or presents a check, with the intent to defraud another party
- Embezzlement occurs when a person or entity misappropriates the assets entrusted to him or her or the assets belonging to an employer
- Forgery involves producing false documents, signatures, or financial instruments to illegally obtain money or property
- Mortgage fraud can be committed by loan officers, mortgage brokers, appraisers, borrowers, and other parties that use falsified financial, income, and/or housing information to provide or obtain mortgage financing
- Mail fraud involves the use of the U.S. Postal Service or private delivery service to conduct a fraudulent scheme (e.g. sending a falsified loan application to a bank)
- Wire fraud involves any fraudulent activity conducted over wire-based communications (e.g. telephone, fax, television, text message, and internet)
Regardless of the fraud charges you face, trust Benjamin Law Firm to provide you with the powerful representation you need and the dependable service you deserve.
Penalties for Fraud in New Mexico
In Las Cruces, fraud can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony; the penalties depend on the nature of the offense and the value of the property or amount defrauded. If the value of the property is less than $250, fraud is charged as a petty misdemeanor. By contrast, fraud is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 9 years in prison if the value of the property is more than $20,000.
There are also collateral consequences of a fraud conviction: the lasting damage to your reputation can interfere with employment opportunities — individuals in accounting, banking and finance may be barred from those industries. When your future is in jeopardy, it is crucial to work with a fraud attorney who has been in the trenches. Benjamin Law Firm is prepared to fight for your rights and will always have your back.
Federal Fraud Laws in Las Cruces, New Mexico
State and federal fraud cases often overlap, particularly those involving mail fraud. As mentioned above, it is unlawful to use the U.S. mail, or a private interstate carrier for any unlawful purpose. As an example, mailing contracts, receipts, or any other communications regarding a fraud scheme constitutes mail fraud. A conviction for mail fraud can result in 20 years in federal prison and fines. The prison sentence may be as much as 30 years if the fraud involves a financial institution, benefits to a federally declared disaster or emergency, or other special circumstances.
The law governing wire fraud broadly defines “wire communications” to include any writings, pictures, signals, or sounds transmitted over wire, radio, television, or internet in interstate or foreign commerce. Wire fraud is frequently charged in conjunction with telemarketing fraud.
An individual faces up to 20 years in prison and fines up to $250,000 for a conviction, while an organization may be fined up to $500,000. Additional penalties apply to offenses involving the same circumstances referenced in the discussion about mail fraud.
Given that state and federal prosecutors often collaborate in investigating and prosecuting fraud crimes in Las Cruces, it is crucial to have an aggressive New Mexico fraud defense attorney handle your case. At Benjamin Law Firm, we have earned a reputation with members of the State Attorney General’s office, the U.S. Department of Justice, and other state and federal authorities as dedicated advocates of our clients and faithful officers of the court. Above all, we will always put your best interests first and make sure that you are treated fairly.
Defenses Against Fraud Charges in Las Cruces, New Mexico
The fact that you have been accused of fraud does not mean that you will be convicted. Prosecutors must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you had the requisite criminal intent to commit fraud and that the victim relied on specific misstatements.
Our experienced fraud defense attorneys will attack the prosecution’s evidence and seek to have it suppressed, in which case the charges may be dropped. Moreover, showing that you had “intent” is a high standard of proof. If you unknowingly passed along false information, we can argue that you lacked intent to deceive. Finally, we may also be able to challenge the victim’s supposed reliance on that information.
Because you may not have any experience with the criminal justice system, we will explain how the process works, handle all the details of your fraud defense, including all required court filings, and achieve the best possible outcome for you.
Contact Our Experienced Las Cruces, New Mexico Fraud Defense Attorneys
If you have been accused of fraud in Las Cruces, you face the potential of a lengthy prison sentence, hefty fines, and the loss of some of your civil rights in addition to your freedom. A conviction for fraud will also have lasting repercussions: the damage to your reputation may interfere with employment and housing opportunities.
This makes working with Benjamin Law Firm a wise choice. When you become our client, you will always know where you stand. We will give you an honest assessment of your prospects at trial and always keep you fully informed about the progress of your case. We encourage your participation in your defense, are always available to respond to your questions and concerns, and will always stand by you. Please contact our office today for a consultation with an experienced New Mexico fraud defense attorney.