Embezzlement And Other “White-Collar” Crimes
Interviewer: What other white-collar crimes are we missing? What about embezzlement? What else do you see that comes across your desk?
Ladan Law: Good question. There’s another prosecuting agency in Florida and that’s run by the Attorney General’s Office. Most commonly, we see that through the Office of Statewide Prosecution. The Office of Statewide Prosecution deals with any crime that basically crosses county lines or involves any type of Internet crime. Federal prosecutors can sometimes handle those crimes but it’s very rare that they’ll do that, unless this is an enormous fraud-type ring.
Fraudulent Timeshare Sales
What we’re seeing a lot down here, are crimes like timeshare re-sales that are marketed worldwide to folks. Many people, who have purchased a timeshare in sunny Florida, have some issue financially somewhere down the line and need to sell their interest in the timeshare or a condo. These companies will make unfair or unscrupulous promises about what services they can provide. They’ll take the fee and then they don’t follow through.
The attorney general’s office has become very strict on prosecuting those types of cases. That can include seizing hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars worth of assets from these companies, locking people out of their daily employment and it’s becoming much more prevalent down here.
Fraudulent Construction Practices
Obviously, we have a big elderly population here in Florida and I can tell you that contractors who prey on the elderly and folks who come by and promised to build the sunroom on the back of your house and don’t follow through, those people are dealt very severely by judges here in Florida. This is because they consider that to be a predatory type event and the state of Florida has a very big interest in putting a stop to that, so we can continue our influx of retirees to the state.
Those are some of the higher-level crimes.
Interviewer: What do you call it those types of crimes? Is that just like criminal fraud or is it some kind of theft charge?
The Type of Victim of the Fraud Can Influence the Penalty
Ladan Law: The fraud on the elderly, is encompassed by that theft statute, and penalties can get more severe, depending on whether you’ve got an elderly victim or not.
Timeshare Sale Fraud Can Be Prosecuted Under the RICO Act.
Interviewer: Is the timeshare resale just criminal fraud or is it considered some other type of crime?
Ladan Law: It can be encompassed under the RICO Act. The RICO Act is an anti-racketeering act that is an enormous umbrella over a variety of fraudulent behaviors. It generally is used in cases where there are some assets to be seized and it is so broad and so complex that cases found under the RICO statutes can last years.
Frankly, it’s a dizzying combination of forensic accounting, simple theft and fraud tactics and everything blended in.
That’s generally what we’re seeing. They’ll start off with the RICO Act violation, antiracketeering, organized fraud type situation, and then we try to whittle it down to something that’s a little more manageable from that.