Scheme to Defraud

The New York legislature enacted the criminal offense of "scheme to defraud" in 1976. Two degrees were created for organized defrauding schemes - first degree and second degree. The crime of scheme to defraud was intended to cover certain instances of theft that were not adequately covered by the larceny statutes or other fraud statutes in the state of New York.

In many of these cases, a series of small thefts occur using a common plan or pattern. Each individual theft provided for relatively minor punishment or penalty. By punishing the scheme itself, the prosecution looks at the aggregate effect of the plan and pattern of crimes committed over time.

Many of these cases involve allegations against a wayward employee in a legitimate business or charity, or allegations that a person impersonates a legitimate business. The allegations can involves small amounts of money or hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Queens Scheme to Defraud Lawyer

If you have been charged with either the misdemeanor or felony version of scheme to defraud then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Law Office. We represent clients on these types of white collar charges in Queens County, New York, and the surrounding areas in New York City including Brooklyn, The Bronx, and Manhattan.

Call to discuss your case and the best way to fight the charges.

Scheme to Defraud Overview

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Scheme to Defraud in the Second Degree

The criminal charge of scheme to defraud under New York's Penal Law § 190.60 is a class A misdemeanor. It requires proof beyond all reasonable doubt of the following three elements:

  1. the defendant engaged in a scheme constituting a systematic ongoing course of conduct;
  2. the defendant did so with intent to defraud more than one person or to obtain property from more than one person by false or fraudulent pretenses, representations or promises; and
  3. the defendant so obtained property from one or more of such persons, at least one of whom has been identified.

The "intent" required under this statute is the intent to defraud more than one person or the intent to obtain property from more than one person by false or fraudulent pretenses, representations or promises. In other words, it must be the person's conscious objective or purpose to do so.

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Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree

The first degree version of scheme to defraud is a class E felony with three versions including:

  1. defrauding ten or more people;
  2. defrauding one or more person for $1,000 or more; or
  3. defrauding a vulnerable elderly person.

Under the first degree version of Scheme to Defraud in 190.65 (1) (c) for defrauding an "vulnerable elderly person," that term is defined to mean a person "sixty years of age or older who is suffering from a disease or infirmity associated with advanced age and manifested by demonstrable physical, mental or emotional dysfunction to the extent that the person is incapable of adequately providing for his or her own health or personal care." See Penal Law § 260.30 (3).

Under this subsection, the intended victims must be at least two "vulnerable elderly persons," and the property must be obtained from one or more "vulnerable elderly persons." Additionally, under such Penal Law § 190.60, the identity of at least one such vulnerable elderly person must be proven.

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Related Charges

New York law provides for a myriad of related white collar crime and other types of theft charges including:

  1. Grand Larceny;
  2. Making a False Statement of Credit Terms;
  3. Identity Theft or Aggravated Identity Theft;
  4. Criminal Impersonation;
  5. Falsifying Business Records, and
  6. Criminal Possession of Stolen Property.

A similar charge exists under Federal Law called the "Scheme and Artifice to Defraud." Under the federal version of the statute, it is alleged that the defendant knowingly and willingly participated in the scheme usually alleged in conjunction with mail and wire fraud prosecutions. These cases often involve allegations of dishonest methods used to deprive someone of something of value by trick or overreaching.

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More Information on Fraudulent Schemes on Other Schemes to Defraud - Organization to help businesses combat business identity theft discusses other common schemes to defraud. These offenses involve impersonating a legitimate business to broaden the types of frauds that can be committed and to increase the number of potential victims. The article gives examples of common schemes to defraud including phishing, deceptive websites, bogus job offer scams for identity theft, and tax fraud or tax refund scams.

FBI on Common Fraud Schemes - List created by the FBI of common schemes involving fraud including telemarketing fraud, identity theft, advance fee schemes, bond fraud, investment related scams. The articles discusses recent examples of complex Ponzi Schemes and Pyramid Schemes investigated by the FBI and prosecuted in state or federal court.

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Scheme to Defraud Charges in Queens, NY

Are you under investigation for or have you been charged with an alleged scheme to defraud in New York City? You will want to make sure that you have legal representation with extensive white collar crime experience.

Queens criminal defense attorney Rochelle S. Berliner aggressively defends clients against these criminal charges in the Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and all boroughs of New York City. Call or submit an online form today to have Law Office review your case.