Financial Fraud Crime Victims
The Emotional Impact
As the victim of a federal fraud crime, you may suffer financial and emotional harm and even medical problems relating to your victimization. Fraud crime is a personal violation. Your trust in your own judgment, and your trust in others, is often shattered. You may feel a sense of betrayal, especially if the perpetrator is someone you know. You may have hesitated to tell family members, friends, or colleagues about your victimization for fear of criticism. If they then were exploited by the same fraud, you might feel guilty and suffer a sense of isolation. If you are elderly, disabled, or on a fixed income - and you lack opportunities to recover your losses - you may face additional trauma, even the loss of your independence.
You may experience feelings about:
•Yourself. That old saying, "Hindsight is 20-20," is never more true than in financial fraud crimes. Many victims believe they should have known or recognized what was going on, or blame themselves for being too trusting or naive.
•The fraud criminal for taking financial advantage of you, betraying your trust, and jeopardizing your financial independence and security
•Your family, friends and colleagues for blaming you, being upset over what they perceive as your lack of judgment, or withdrawing financial or emotional support.
•The investigative and prosecutorial phases of the justice process, especially in cases that progress slowly or do not result in financial outcomes favorable to you.
•The news media for failing to warn the public about fraud schemes or for exploiting victims when fraud crimes are reported.
•Consumer protection agencies for failing to protect your interests.
•Creditors who don't understand your dire financial circumstances.
•Community, state and federal agencies if their resources are limited or they do not have the authority to help you.
Fraud occurs when a person or business intentionally deceives another with promises of goods, services, or financial benefits that do not exist, were never intended to be provided, or were misrepresented. Typically, victims give money but never receive what they paid for. Millions of people in the United States are victims of fraud crimes each year.
Who are the victims of fraud?
Virtually anyone can fall prey to fraudulent crimes. Con artists do not pass over anyone due to such factors as a person's age, finances, educational level, gender, race, culture, ability, or geographic location. In fact, fraud perpetrators often target certain groups based on these factors.
Why are fraud crimes under-reported?
Although fraud victims are not alone, they often suffer their losses alone and in silence. Shame, guilty, embarrassment, and disbelief are among the reasons that only an estimated 15 percent of the nation's fraud victims report their crimes to law enforcement. Other reasons include victims' doubt about their own judgment, a sense of betrayal, and fears about how their family members, friends, and business associates will react. Some victims feel their losses are not large enough to report, do not want to get involved, think law enforcement agencies will not take the crime seriously, or think nothing will result from reporting the crime. Many victims feel they only have themselves to blame, when in reality, calculating, skilled perpetrators are to blame for these criminal acts.
Who commits fraud crimes?
Like their victims, fraud criminals vary educationally, socially, geographically, and financially. Most con-artists make a career of their criminal activities. Some even join professional organizations to legitimize their schemes and project a respectable front.
What are some common types of fraud?
The weapon of choice for fraud criminals is not a gun or a knife. Rather, it is most often a telephone, letter, glossy publication, or brochure offering free vacations, merchandise, investment opportunities, or services. Not all frauds involve the direct selling of goods to consumers. Some frauds target institutions or businesses. Examples include:
•Telemarketing fraud (telephone solicitation for phony goods or services)
•Health care and insurance fraud
•Pension and trust fund fraud
•Credit card and check fraud (including fraud by impersonation resulting from theft of mail or credit cards)
•Fraud related to securities, commodities, and other investments
•Pyramid or Ponzi schemes
•Advance fee schemes
What makes your case a federal matter?
Fraud crimes can be prosecuted at either the state or federal level, depending on a number of factors:
•Type of fraud scheme and amount of money stolen
•Laws violated (federal, state or both)
•Method of operation
•Use of public services (such as the U.S. Postal Service, Telecommunication systems, and Medicare) that fall under federal or state regulation and authority
•Location of the crime (within a state or across state or national borders)
What kind of documentation do I need to have regarding my case?
In addition to providing written and oral information about the case, you will be required to show documentation of your financial losses. You should save all paperwork relating to the crime, including such items as letters of solicitation, prospectuses, canceled checks, cash receipts, receipts for cashier's checks or money orders, bank statements, investment statements, or medical statements. If your case proceeds to trial and a conviction is secured, the judge will need this documentation to determine whether the offender will be ordered to pay restitution for your losses.
What can I do to address financial or credit problems?
If your losses were severe and you are unable to meet your financial obligations, or if your identity was stolen as part of the crime, your credit rating may be affected. Consider some of these options:
•Contact your creditors immediately. Creditors will often work with you to reduce or modify your payments.
•Consult a nonprofit consumer credit counseling service, which may be able to negotiate new payment arrangements or consolidate or reduce payments or interest.
•Contact a credit reporting agencies about your victimization.
1) Equifax Credit Information Services
Consumer Fraud Division
P.O. Box 105069
Atlanta, GA 30348
National Consumer Assistance
P.O. Box 1017
Allen, TX 75013
Fraud Victim Assistance Department
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834
•Report the fraudulent use of your checks
1) Check Rite (800) 766-2748
2) Equifax-Telecredit (800) 437-5120
3) NPC (800) 526-5380
4) Tele-Check (800) 366-2425
5) Chex Systems (800) 328-5121
What is an Identity Theft Report?
Some creditors will request this report in order to remove the debts created by the theft.
File a report with your local police department. Request a copy of the police report as it is one of the two documents that comprise the Identity Theft Report.
File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-438-4338. The completed complaint is called an FTC Affidavit and is the 2nd document needed for your Identity Theft Report. The FTC also has counselors to help you resolve financial and other problems that can result from this crime.
Visit https://www.identitytheft.gov/ to create a detailed personal recoveryplan
Does the U.S. Attorney's Office offer any services to assist victims?
Yes, there are many services provided by our office to assist you if you are a victim of a crime. The staff of the Victim-Witness Program will work to become aware of your needs, feelings and concerns, and to answer questions you may have about participating in the case.