West Palm Beach Business & Consumer Fraud Attorney
Business and consumer fraud is on the rise, especially in the State of Florida. As a full-service law firm with an active commercial litigation practice, the attorneys at the law offices of Pike & Lustig, LLP understand our clients’ business litigation needs in both State and Federal legal affairs. In fact, we handle business and consumer fraud matters in Federal and State Courts from the time of filing the lawsuit up through and including a jury trial. Let our West Palm Beach business & consumer fraud attorneys help you today.
What are Business Fraud and Consumer Fraud under Florida Law?
Business fraud is any business activity involving deceitful practices which cause economic injury and damages. The elements of business fraud are:
- A false representation of fact;
- Made by another;
- With knowledge that the representation was false when it was made;
- With an intention to induce another to act or refrain from acting in reliance on the representation; and
- Damages resulting therefrom.
Business fraud and consumer fraud are strikingly similar. The legal definition of consumer fraud is as follows:
“Consumer fraud occurs when, in the context of a business transaction, false statements of fact are made, the person making false statements knew that the statements were false when they were made, and that the other party in the transaction relied on the false statements to their detriment.”
Common and Blatant Examples of Fraud
Consumer fraud is currently running rampant in the U.S. A study done by LexisNexis Risk Solutions revealed that successful fraudulent transactions have risen by 95 percent from 2012 to 2015, as reported by debt.org. However, the percentage of prevented frauds matched that number, at 96.6 percent, revealing that fraud has increased by over 190 percent in the previous few years alone. The cost to the economy? That number is around $40 to $50 billion per year at the retail level. Healthcare fraud is estimated to be at $200 billion in 2014, and the IRS was deceived out of $5.8 billion, both falling under the category of business fraud. As for consumer fraud, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), identity theft has been the number one type of consumer fraud over the last 15 years. Identity theft consists of someone stealing another party’s personal information, such as their Social Security number and credit card and bank account information. The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reports that the National Crime Victimization Survey classifies identity theft as one of the three types of incidents:
- The unauthorized use or attempted use of an existing account;
- The unauthorized use or attempted use of personal information to open a new account; and
- The misuse of personal information for a fraudulent purpose.
According to the BJS, 17.6 million Americans were victims of identity theft in 2014 alone.
Credit Card Fraud
The second leading cause of fraud is credit card fraud. Everyone is a target: consumers, merchants, and even banks. In fact, the total cost for the U.S. in 2014 due to credit card fraud was $8 billion. Banks end up absorbing the cost, which is, of course, passed back down to the public eventually.
Ways in which credit card fraud is committed include:
- Data skimming from the magnetic strip is used to encode new cards;
- Phishing done by computer hack;
- Identity theft;
- A physical card being stolen or misplaced;
- A thief requesting a victim’s credit card for a replacement card during a change of address; and
- Fake credit cards are created with fake numbers, name, and are not associated with any bank or credit card company.
Credit card fraud happens first and foremost at retail stores, with the card’s information being stolen by the thief and then used at a later date. However, EMV chips will help decrease credit card fraud, replacing the standard magnetic strip as the primary use, which only use a single and unchanging transaction code for each transaction. Duplicate cards with stolen information will not be able to be used in the future when all transactions are done by EMV chip.
Another major source of fraud is mortgage fraud. Many of the scams are directed at homeowners that are struggling financially to stay afloat and come up with their monthly mortgage payments. They rely on the desperation of the homeowner to blind them of these too-good-to-be-true-offers. Mortgage fraud scams consist of loan modifications, foreclosure schemes, equity skimming, and others.
Experienced West Palm Beach Business & Consumer Fraud Attorneys
As attorneys who practice both commercial litigation and personal injury law, we are particularly adept at recovering compensation for fraud victims who have suffered legal damages. If you believe you or your business is a victim of consumer or business fraud, contact the West Palm Beach business and consumer fraud attorneys at Pike and Lustig, LLP. Our attorneys have a combined sixteen years of legal practice with some of Florida’s largest firms. Therefore, we offer our clients sophisticated litigation services at competitive rates.