FBI Report Shows Rise in Insurance Fraud and Other Nonviolent Crime Among Street Gangs

October 31, 2011 by David S. Seltzer

As a Miami insurance fraud criminal defense lawyer, I was interested to read an article suggesting insurance fraud and other forms of fraud are on the rise. According to AOL’s DailyFinance site, the kind of street gang that has historically focused on crimes like drug trafficking or underground gambling is starting to get involved in “white-collar” crimes. The numbers come from an FBI report, which cites the Crips, the Mexican Mafia, the Armenian Power gang, the Latin Kings, the Bloods and the Vice Lords. In addition to insurance fraud, they’re accused of involvement in mortgage fraud, identity theft, counterfeiting checks and other forms of financial fraud. In addition to being a new source of revenue, the new crimes also help the gangs launder money.

An FBI spokesperson said part of the reason for the change in criminal focus is opportunity. Just like other segments of society, street gangs recognized that the mortgage bubble presented an opportunity to make money. In addition, the spokesperson said, the Internet offers opportunities to commit crimes under greater cover of anonymity than in-person crime allows. Thus, a criminal organization can organize credit card fraud or steal many identities at once, and often make purchases with the purloined information, without ever leaving the room. And not surprisingly, the spokesperson said there’s a perception among criminal gangs that “white-collar” crime is punished less harshly than the kind of street crime they’re used to. The article cautioned that this isn’t necessarily true, however, since sentencing takes into account the magnitude of the losses as well as the use of violence and so on.

This is true, but as a Fort Lauderdale insurance fraud defense attorney, I still suspect that the sentences involved will start out at a lower range. Observers of the court system know that sentencing is not always fair or well-thought-out; consider the sentences for crack crimes, which until recently were 100 times more harsh than the sentences for an equivalent cocaine crime. Because a crime like insurance fraud does not require violence, it’s likely that the base sentence will be lower. Of course, this doesn’t prevent the sentencing judge from heaping on enhancements or factors that raise the sentence, and in fact, people with a history of criminal activity are generally likely to get higher sentences. But in addition, there’s a real risk that judges will hand down harsher sentences because they simply don’t like the defendant’s gang membership status, regardless of past criminal history, or even his or her ethnic background.

That’s why it’s so vital to call an experienced south Florida insurance fraud lawyer as soon as you realize you’re in legal trouble. At Seltzer Law, P.A., we represent clients across the state of Florida who are accused of insurance fraud and other serious financial crimes. We know the police don’t stop making arrests after office hours are over, so we make sure we’re available to our clients and potential clients at all times — 24 hours a day and seven days a week. We offer free, confidential case evaluations, so you can talk to us about your rights and your options at no further risk. To tell us about your case and learn more about us, don’t be afraid to call our downtown Miami offices today at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333) or send us a message through our website.

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