Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Many Faces of Fraud.. Part II... The "Known" Perpetrator

Last time we covered fraud that is committed in an "impersonal" manner.  Unfortunately, fraudulent activity is not confined to those situations. Here are a few other types of fraud that I hope you never encounter.

Marital Fraud

When one spouse defrauds another proving the fraudulent activity can be important to a the final division of property in a divorce case. Marital fraud can take various forms. The most common is the hiding of assets. The spouse who is acting in bad faith may hide money, real or personal property, regular income, commissions or  bonuses from the innocent spouse.   Another type of fraud occurs when one spouse forges an innocent spouse's name without his/her permission in order to obtain loans or credit. 

If you believe that you may have been defrauded by your spouse, you should try to gather proof while you have the opportunity.  Once you confront your spouse or have him/her served with a divorce suit, s/he may attempt to hide evidence.   Although you can request documentation or a deposition through your attorney once a suit is filed, this process can take a while and will cost you some money.   Therefore, it is a good idea to get a copy of the evidence while you can, unless it will put you or someone you care about at a physical risk. 

You should contact a divorce attorney who is familiar with the complications that marital fraud can add to a case. 

Consumer Fraud

Another type of fraud that is common is consumer fraud.  This fraud can be perpetrated more easily by someone who gets to know you face to face.

You can help prevent this type of problem by taking the following steps: 1) if you need a service provider or need to make a major purchase, try to get a personal referral or at least check out the person/company online; 2) don't let anyone pressure you into making a quick decision  3) read any contracts thoroughly 4) only rely on what is written in the contract and ask for any guarantees or changes in contract terms to be in writing.

Certain types of activity may be covered by the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. If you file a suit under this act, and win, you may be entitled to additional damages and may also be able to recover reasonable attorneys fees.  A business or consumer attorney can help you evaluate your situation and tell you the most efficient and financially feasible way to handle it.

Other Types of Fraud

In some cases, someone close to you may choose to forge your name, take on your identity, or steal from you. Whether it is a family member, friend, colleague, former employee or neighbor, you may have various legal remedies.  You may be able file a criminal report, in other cases a civil suit to recover your damages may be appropriate.   Some situations may call for both criminal and civil action. 

If you are a business owner and an employee acts fraudulently at your place of business or by using your name, you will need to do some quick damage control. First, be sure that none of your customers are harmed and that none of their personal data or assets are at risk.  You will need to immediately restrict that employee's access to your business records and information.  You should take immediate action against that person, document everything and be certain that you are familiar with employment law regarding disciplinary action and termination.  Consulting with a business attorney right away can help you to avoid pitfalls that make the situation worse, and manage your risk adequately. 

As we have seen there are many types of fraud.  If you have been a victim of fraud, you should become familiar with all your options. A legal consult can help you to decide the best way to minimize damages and whether or not you should take further action. 

Kalish Law Office - The Woodlands Texas 

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