||Services > Federal Fraud Crime Victims
|As the victim of a federal fraud crime, you may suffer financial and emotional harm and even medical problems relating to your victimization. And you are not alone. As many as 24 million people in the United States are victims of fraud crimes each year, according to a 1994 Department of Justice research report, and undoubtedly those numbers have risen since.
What is fraud?
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 recieve what they paid for.
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, disability, or geographic location. And they do not target certain groups based on those factors.
Why are fraud crimes unreported?
Although fraud victims are not alone, they often suffer their losses alone and in silence. Shame, guilt, embarrassment, and disbelief are among the reasons that only an estimated 15 percent of the nation's fraud victims report their situation 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 that 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 thay have only themselves to blame. 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. The image of fly-by-night con artists depicted by the media does not describe most fraud criminals. Most con artists make a career out of their criminal activities. Some even join professional organizations to legitimize their schemes and project a respectable front.
What makes your case a federal matter?
Fraud crimes can be prosecuted at either the state or the federal level, depending on a number of factors:
What are some common types of fraud?
- Type of fraud scheme or amount of money stolen
- Laws violated (federal, state or both)
- Method of operation
- Use of public services (such as U.S. Postal Services, telecommunications 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)
The weapon of choice for fraud criminals is not a gun or a knife. Rather it is most often a telephone, letter, email, website, 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. Some examples of federal fraud crimes are:
What services are available to help the victim of federal fraud crime?
- Telemarketing fraud (telephone solicitation for false goods or services)
- Mail fraud
- 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
- Banking fraud
- Pyramid schemes
- Advance fee schemes
- Internet fraud
The victim/witness coordinator on the investigative or prosecutorial phase, case agent, and federal prosecutor will work to become aware of your needs, feelings, and concerns and to answer questions you may have about participating in the case. Services that they commonly provide include:
If you are named as a victim in the case and are required to testify, these services may be provided to you:
- Referrals to mental health, financial and social services
- Security/protection information and referrals
- Information about the federal criminal justice system and your rights and roles as you participate
- Assistance with employers and creditors
- Notification about dates, times, places, and outcomes of court proceedings
- Information on how you can submit a victim impact statement or, where permissible, speak at a sentencing
The victim/witness coordinator may also be able to help you retrieve property of yours that was taken into evidence and tell you how to enroll in the Bureau of Prisons Victim Notification Program. Under that program, if the accused is found or pleades guilty and is incarcerated, you can be notified of the offender's target release date.
As a victim of a federal fraud crime there are a number of rights that must be recognized by the criminal justice professionals involved in your case. You have the right to:
- Information about being placed "on call" for court attendance, an arrangement that lets you stay at home or work until you are actually needed to testify
- Arrangements to help you travel to and from court, especially if you live out of state
- Escort to court proceedings
If you have been identified as a federal crime victim of an Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)case, the FBI's victim/witness coordinator can provide you with additional information concerning your rights and assist you as a liaison regarding employment and credit issues. Each federal prosecutor has a victim/witness coordinator who can provide you with additional information about your rights and the services available to you and help you take advantage of them.
- Be treated fairly and with respect for your dignity and privacy
- Be reasonably protected from the accused offender
- Be notified of court proceedings
- Attend all public court proceedings related to the offense, unless the court determines that your testimony would be materially affected if you heard other testimony at the trial
- Confer with the attorney for the government
- Request and receive an order of restitution
- Prepare a victim impact statement about the crime's emotional, financial, and physical impact on you for inclusion in the pre-sentence investigation report, which the court may order if the defendant is found or pleads guilty
- Receive information about the conviction, sentencing, imprisonment, and release of the offender
- Receive information and referrals to programs that can help you deal with the impact of the fraud crime