Fleeting are the days during which the South Florida’s criminal markets were notorious purely for international drug smuggling; new reports published late last month show that crime in South Florida is an increasingly white collar, fraud-related affair.
Florida in general, for instance, ranks No. 1 in the country for identity theft complaints at a rate of 193 per 100,000 residents; but Miami itself blows the Sunshine State out of the water, with 340 complaints per 100,000 residents.
Our Palm Beach and Broward County white collar criminal defense attorneys know that in addition to the fact that South Florida’s fraud schemes are increasing in number, they are also dwarfing all other organized fraud rings throughout the United States. As Fortune bluntly states, the South Florida “region is the fraud capital of America.”
According to the Associated Press (the AP), the fraud scams that take place in South Florida’s three most populated counties (Miami-Dade County, Broward County, and Palm Beach County) typically involve stealing millions of dollars from the U.S. government, national and local banks, and other individuals by using simple laptops, stolen identities and faking medical procedures.
The AP continues, noting that the “endlessly creative crooks” in South Florida create fake Jamaican lotteries, fraudulent insurance claims, knock-off “imported” cheese, false marriage certificates (for immigration purposes), etc. Despite the ever-growing and wide range of white collar fraud scams taking place in South Florida, the three most profitable schemes are medicare fraud, mortgage fraud, and identity theft tax refunds, which seems to be the “most popular current trend,” according to the AP.
A special agent overseeing the FBI’s South Florida office noted the increase in white collar fraud crimes could be due to the fact that large criminal organizations are moving from violent crimes to focusing on digital data-based crimes. For ID theft to turn into lucrative criminal activity, as our Palm Beach and Broward County white collar criminal defense attorneys know that criminals just need to steal someone’s name and socials security number, file a fraudulent tax return online with said name and social security number, and collect the refund check, with the government being none the wiser until the check has already been cashed and the criminal organization has moved on to new victims.
Tax fraud is a serious problem, as our Palm Beach and Broward County white collar criminal defense lawyers know; reports indicate that in 2012, more than three-quarters of a million possibly undetected fraudulent tax returns were filed with the government, amounting to more than $2.1 billion in refunds to criminals such as the ones operating throughout South Florida.
If you have any questions about the increase in white collar fraud crime in South Florida, or if you have been arrested for or charged with a crime in Palm Beach, Broward or Miami-Dade County, please contact our white collar criminal defense lawyers at Leifert & Leifert by calling 1-888-5-DEFEND (1-888-533-3363) to schedule a free consultation. We look forward to assisting you.