You’ve probably heard the old phrase that “the pen is mightier than the sword.” When it comes to stealing other’s property through fraud and forgery, the deception and lies written by that pen can result in years behind bars and a life of being branded a dishonest thief.
Types of Colorado Fraud Crimes
Fraud, in its simplest definition, is the act of lying, making false representations, or otherwise deceiving someone into giving up their property or depriving them or property rightfully theirs for the deceiver’s own financial gain. Fraud comes in all kinds of forms and can involve simple lies, complex schemes, or increasingly sophisticated technology. Examples of fraud include:
- Credit card fraud, including the use of “skimming” devices
- Identity theft
- Check fraud
- Investment fraud including pyramid or “Ponzi” schemes, oil and gas investment schemes, “fix-and-flip” housing scams and more
- Bank fraud
- Insurance fraud
- Workers’ compensation fraud
- Social Security fraud
- Consumer fraud
- Tax fraud
Both Colorado and federal law contain multiple statutes which address the wide range of fraudulent activities which deprive individuals and corporations of billions of dollars every single year. Each individual fraud statute sets forth its own schedule of punishments, but all of them can involve jail time, hefty fines, payment of restitution to victims, and probation. For example, identity theft in Colorado is a class 4 felony that can result in up to 12 years in prison and $500,000 in fines. In addition to these serious criminal penalties, fraud victims can also file civil lawsuits seeking to recoup their losses from those who have taken their money or property.
Perhaps the most common form of fraud in Colorado is check fraud, specifically, knowingly writing a check with insufficient funds in the payor’s account. C.R.S. 18-5-205 provides that any person, knowing he has insufficient funds who, with intent to defraud, issues a check for the payment of services, wages, salary, commissions, labor, rent, money, property, or other thing of value, commits fraud by check.
Whether the passing of the fraudulent check will be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor will depend on the amount of the check. Any check for more than one thousand dollars is a class six felony carrying with it up to 18 months in prison or a fine up to $100,000.
One form of check fraud involves forgery, which is the act of creating or altering written documents with the intent to deceive, as well as possessing forged documents with the intent to trick others. Forgery can involve all kinds of documents including:
- money, stamps, or government securities
- stocks or bonds
- deeds, wills, contracts, or other legal documents
- public records
- tokens, transfers, or tickets used in the place of money
- lottery tickets, or
- identification documents
It is also a crime simply to possess any tool or equipment specifically designed to make counterfeit or forged documents, or any tool or equipment that the defendant intends to use to make forgeries or knows will be used to make forgeries.
Forgery is a class five felony and upon conviction can result in three years in state prison and a fine up to $100,00. The penalties can be up to six years behind bars if the court finds particularly aggravated circumstances.
Since fraud and forgery are crimes that involve dishonesty and deceit, they can be particularly damaging if you are convicted. All potential employers will cast a suspicious eye on you if you carry a fraud or forgery conviction on your record, and you will likely be outright denied any job opportunities that involve sensitive information, finances, or security clearances. Whether your circumstances caused you to make a poor decision or you have been wrongfully accused, you have rights and defenses that an experienced Colorado fraud and forgery defense lawyer can assert on your behalf. Don’t face the possibility of a fraud or forgery conviction on your own; call a skilled and aggressive Colorado criminal defense attorney today.