Many scams take place over the phone. They often occur with the lure of a possible "grand prize." A scammer might also promise a business opportunity. They might also ask for donations or mention sweepstakes. The crime usually involves a variety of ways of keeping you on the line. But they always engage in some level of misrepresentation and typically use false statements.
Scams will almost always involve some type of solicitation. Scammers frequently try to extract sensitive information from their victims. Such information includes Social Security or credit card numbers. Phone scammers may try to sell you something with no intention of actually delivering. They have every intention of taking your money. But if you know how to protect yourself, you can avoid being defrauded. As a part of consumer protection, fraud laws prescribe criminal penalties for those who commit the acts. Continue reading to learn more.
Telemarketing Fraud: A Basic Breakdown
Telemarketing fraud is a petty variety of white-collar crime. It can sometimes also involve other types of crimes. These include wire fraud or mail fraud. It can involve pyramid schemes. It usually is treated as a federal crime. This is because it usually involves a crime spanning multiple states. As such, it can often be investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Local law enforcement may also be involved in enforcing fraud laws. The crime might involve advance fee fraud or charity fraud.
Elements of the Crime
The crime of fraud involves a few elements. Each jurisdiction may treat these elements differently. Some jurisdictions might use slightly different elements. It's important to check the laws of your state to verify them. If you're facing fraud charges, it's important to talk to a criminal defense attorney. Given that the crime is often treated as a federal one, you may need to speak with a federal criminal defense attorney.
This definition and the elements of fraud can cover a large variety of scams. Telemarketing fraud involves the use of phones or text messages. Sometimes, victims are told that they won a prize in a foreign lottery, and their personal information is required to receive the prize. Whatever the means, fraud is characterized by the following elements:
- The perpetrator makes a false statement;
- The perpetrator intends to deceive the victim;
- The victim must rely on the false statement in how they succumb to the fraud; and
- The victim sustains an injury as a result of relying on the false statement that the perpetrator uses
Fraud is treated as a criminal offense. But victims may also recover civil damages, including with telemarketing scams.
You might encounter a scenario like this in a telemarketing scam: The scammer calls the victim, claiming to be from an anti-virus software company. They might then convince the victim to allow the caller to access their computer in order to rid it of a fictional virus. Once the scammer has the victim's personal information, they can use it to access the victim's bank accounts.
Given the wide variety of telemarketing schemes, it can be hard to recognize and even harder to protect yourself against fraud. However, there are a few easy and sensible things you can do:
Register your home and mobile phone numbers with the National Do Not Call Registry. Telemarketers aren't allowed to call people on this registry, so if you get such a phone call, you'll know immediately that it's a scam.
If the phone call otherwise violates the rules for telemarketing (such as calling too early or too late or failing to identify the origin of the call), it's probably a scammer. Hang up and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
Never give out personal information, such as your Social Security number or bank account number, to a telemarketer. If you're interested in the caller's offer, request information to be sent in the mail so that you can make a decision later. Most legitimate companies will be happy to do this for you.
Don't feel pressured to make any decisions right away. One favorite tactic of telemarketers is to rush the decision to make you more likely to give in to the scheme. If you start to feel pressured, simply hang up.
How Telemarketing Fraud Is Prosecuted
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is responsible for prosecuting telemarketing fraud. After a complaint is filed, the FTC investigates the complaint and decides whether a violation has occurred. If so, the FTC will start adjudication proceedings within the commission itself. Its decision can then be appealed to the U.S. court system.
Each state has its own telemarketing statutes and can prosecute under those laws. However, most telemarketing fraud is committed across state lines, so the FTC is often the best organization to handle complaints. The prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant has committed the crime.
Get Professional Legal Help With Your Telemarketing Fraud Charges
If you're facing criminal charges for telemarketing fraud, you're presumed innocent until proven guilty in court. There are a number of very important constitutional rights for criminal defendants regardless of the charges brought against them. To learn more about telemarketing fraud and what to do if you're facing charges, reach out to an experienced criminal defense lawyer in your area. You can often get a free case evaluation. Fraud cases entail severe penalties. It's important to speak with a lawyer if you're facing fraud charges.