Denny Ray Hughes of Vernon, Florida has been charged with nine counts of wire fraud and three counts of aggravated identity theft, allegedly using those identities to fraudulently collect unemployment compensation. Hughes allegedly created a corporation in 2008, Mortgage Relief America, and then obtained personal information of 21 people, classifying them as employees.
Hughes’s scheme allegedly classified the 21 individuals as being laid off and filed with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Unemployment Compensation Program over the Internet or by phone, stating the 21 people had previously worked for his corporation. Hughes then fraudulently applied for unemployment compensation funds and had the money deposited in an account he created for that purpose. Court documents do not state how much money he allegedly stole from the state of Florida.
Mail fraud, including theft by mail, is a serious federal offense involving use of the mail as a means of attempting or committing a scheme to defraud others of property or money. Mail theft or mail fraud may result in a fine of up to $250,000, along with imprisonment. If the fraud was aimed against a financial institution, the offender may be exposed to a prison sentence of up to 30 years, and fines of up to $1,000,000.
When mail fraud charges are coupled with identity theft in Jacksonville, one’s exposure to a long prison sentence is extreme. Identity theft is a form of theft in which someone pretends to be someone else by assuming that person’s identity, typically in order to access resources or gain some benefit that could be given to the person’s name; in this case, tax returns. The victim of the identity theft (the person whose identity has been assumed by the thief) can suffer serious penalties if they are wrongfully held accountable for the perpetrator’s actions.
One may charged with Aggravated identity theft if the prosecution proves one knowingly transferred, possessed, or used, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person in the commission of particular felony violations.
Fraud can range widely, from base forms such as intentionally mailing falsified documents, to applications for unemployment compensation funds, to packages related to a mortgage application or bank transaction involving evidence of a fraud. Furthermore, each instance of mail fraud is a separate offense. Multiple offenses can increase the prison sentence upon conviction.
When one enters the legal system to fight one such charge, one should remember that, in prosecuting aggravated identity theft, the government must prove that one knew that the “means of identification” (a name, Social Security number, or credit card number) that one unlawfully transferred, possessed, or used, in fact belonged to another existing person; Mere knowledge that the means of identification used was not one’s own is not sufficient. If one personally refers to the scheme once in a phone conversation, one could be at risk of prosecution.
While the physical evidence may be present, the prosecution will need to prove the intent of the individual accused of mail fraud and identity theft. This may prove to be more difficult for the prosecution to prove if one obtains an experienced Jacksonville mail fraud and identity theft crimes defense attorney to fight the case.
The Forbess Law Firm has been aiding clients who face criminal charges in Jacksonville for years and are here to provide aggressive criminal defense to anyone accused of a crime. If you or a loved one require a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, contact our firm today. We are available through our website or by calling us at 904-634-0900.
Additional Source: Vernon man accused of wire fraud and identity theft in Florida, Bob Audette, Brattleboro Reformer