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Florida State With The Highest Incidence Of Fraud

fraud-7More than 30 different categories of complaints were recorded in 2011. Identity theft was the most common one, representing 15 percent of all complaints. Many other categories relate to a growing number of Americans in debt as a result of the recession and the housing crash. Debt collection fraud was the second most common category, defined by the FTC as consumers reporting abuse by both legitimate debt collectors and those pretending to be. Other categories included banking and lending scams, as well as scams arising from promises of relief from mortgage debt (source).

From 24/7 Wall St.: When times are hard, fraud often gets worse. Americans are under great financial pressure, and there is no shortage of criminals waiting to take advantage of it. According to the most recent report published by the Federal Trade Commission, there were more than 1.8 million complaints of fraud, identity theft or some other deceptive business practices last year. This is up roughly 40 percent from 2010. 24/7 Wall St. examined the 10 states that had the most complaints in proportion to the size of their populations.

In order to identify the 10 states with the highest incidence of fraud, 24/7 Wall st. reviewed data from the FTC’s Sentinel Network Data Book, which compiles the total number of complaints for each state. These complaints are divided between identity theft and a second category, which includes all other kinds of fraud. 24/7 Wall St. combined the total complaints of fraud per 100,000 people in each of these categories.

  • Complaints per 100,000 population: 694
  • Total complaints: 130,449
  • Identity theft complaints per 100,000: 178.7 (the most)
  • Recession home value decline: 44.8 percent (4th largest)
  • Homes late on payment or in foreclosure: 17.4 percent (the most)

Florida has, far and away, the highest per capita rate of identity theft reports in the country. In 2011, the state had 178.7 complaints per 100,000 population. The greatest percentage of these complaints, 51 percent in total, involved government documents or benefits fraud. The Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach metropolitan area, also known as the Miami metropolitan area, had the highest rate of identity theft complaints in the state and in the country at 324.1 complaints per 100,000 residents. This is nearly double the next-highest MSA.

CFTC Charges Four Florida-based Precious Metals Firms and Three Individuals for Engaging in Illegal Retail Off-Exchange Transactions in Precious Metals

CFTC Orders Bar Secured Precious Metals International, Inc., Secured Precious Metals Management, Inc., Barclay Metals, Inc., Universal Clearing, LLC, Linda Laramie, Sean Stropp, and Sylvia Williams from commodities industry for five-years. Source

Washington DC – The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) today issued two Orders filing and settling charges against two Fort Lauderdale, Fla. companies, Secured Precious Metals International, Inc. and Secured Precious Metals Management, Inc., and their sole owner and principal, Linda Laramie (collectively SPM), as well as two West Palm Beach, Fla. companies, Barclay Metals, Inc. and Universal Clearing, LLC, and their owners and principals, Sean Stropp and Sylvia Williams (collectively Barclay), all for engaging in illegal off-exchange financed transactions in precious metals with retail customers.

The Illegal Transactions

The CFTC Orders find that from July 2011 through June 2012, SPM and Barclay solicited retail customers, generally by telephone or through their websites, to buy and sell physical precious metals, such as gold and silver, in off-exchange leverage transactions. According to the Orders, customers paid as little as 20 percent of the purchase price for the metals, and SPM and Barclay purportedly financed the remainder of the purchase price, while charging the customers interest on the amount borrowed.

The CFTC Orders state that financed off-exchange transactions with retail customers have been illegal since July 16, 2011, when certain amendments of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 became effective. As explained in the Orders, financed transactions in commodities with retail customers like those engaged in by SPM and Barclay must be executed on, or subject to, the rules of a board of trade that has been approved by the CFTC. Since SPM and Barclay’s transactions were done off-exchange with customers who were not eligible contract participants, they were illegal, the Orders find.

The CFTC Orders require SPM and Barclay to cease and desist from violating Section 4(a) of the Commodity Exchange Act, as charged, and prohibit them for a five-year period from trading on or pursuant to the rules of any registered entity. The Orders also require SPM and Barclay to comply with certain undertakings, including cooperating fully and expeditiously with the CFTC in related matters. The Orders, which do not impose civil monetary penalties, acknowledge the substantial cooperation of SPM and Barclay.

CFTC’s Precious Metals Fraud Advisory

In January 2012, the CFTC issued a Consumer Fraud Advisory regarding precious metals fraud, saying that it had seen an increase in the number of companies offering customers the opportunity to buy or invest in precious metals (see the Advisory). The CFTC’s Precious Metals Consumer Fraud Advisory specifically warns that frequently companies do not purchase any physical metals for the customer, instead simply keeping the customer’s funds. The Advisory further cautions consumers that leveraged commodity transactions are unlawful unless executed on a regulated exchange. Full Story, source

West Palm Beach Fraud Defense Attorney

Depending upon the amount taken, fraud charges can have very serious consequences in Florida:

  • Theft of $300 to $20,000 by fraud is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in jail and a $5,000 fine
  • Theft of $20,000 to $100,000 by fraud is a second-degree felony, punishable up to 15 years in jail and a $10,000 fine.
  • Theft of more than $100,000 by fraud is a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years and a $10,000 fine.

At the law firm of Andrew D. Stine, P.A., in West Palm Beach, we have extensive experience representing people charged with fraud crimes, including mortgage fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, securities fraud, tax evasion, insider trading, theft by fraudulent means, writing bad checks, and organized schemes to defraud.

In Florida, most fraud changes involve the Economic Crimes Division (ECD) putting together a great amount of evidence for presentation before a grand jury. The best way to resolve these cases is for your lawyer to have a good working relationship with the prosecutor and to try to avoid any serious consequences by paying restitution. In Florida, restitution outweighs incarceration, so if your lawyer can persuade the victim to drop charges in favor of receiving their money back, you can usually avoid a conviction.

If you did not commit the fraud crime, we can prepare an aggressive defense and force the state to prove its case. In many cases, that can be a difficult thing for the state to do.

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