Tampa Federal Insurance Fraud Lawyer
The federal government closely regulates the insurance industry. Although Florida has state regulators who keep a close tab on the industry, the federal government has authority to investigate insurance fraud when the defendant or transaction is involved in interstate commerce.
Unfortunately, federal regulators and prosecutors are often overzealous in rooting out fraud. Many people whose conduct is entirely blameless get charged with participation in fraudulent schemes, which can result in prison time and loss of license. If you are facing charges, contact a Tampa federal insurance fraud lawyer at O’Mara Law Group today.
Key Federal Fraud Statute
18 U.S.C. §1033 is the major fraud statute at the federal level. It is a complicated law which attorneys can spend years puzzling over. However, the law prohibits the following conduct:
- Someone working in the insurance industry cannot make a false material statement knowingly and with the intent to deceive in connection with documents submitted to a regulator or the valuation of certain assets. A classic example is an insurance adjuster who artificially inflates the value of property.
- Someone working in the insurance industry cannot embezzle or misappropriate funds. This might happen when an employee skims off the top of a settlement without permission.
- Someone working in the insurance industry cannot knowingly make a false statement related to the financial condition of the company. For example, an insurance company director might inflate the value of the insurance company to draw investors or secure financing.
- A person cannot use threats or force to influence or obstruct a proceeding (such as an investigation) related to an insurance business. As an example, imagine the CEO of an insurance company threatening a regulator who is investigating it.
Because this is a federal law, the activity must in some way relate to interstate commerce. Typically, this element is easily met, especially when insurance companies have offices in several states.
Federal Penalties for Insurance Fraud
Section 1033 has a complicated scheme for determining the applicable penalties. However, most violations will result in up to 10 years in prison, with up to 15 possible where the fraud financially harms an insurance company.
A conviction for a federal insurance fraud will result in a lifetime ban on working in the interstate insurance industry. The same is true if a person has a state-level conviction for breach of trust or dishonesty. Section 1033(e) lays out the penalty for someone who ignores this prohibition and works anyway: up to 5 years in prison and a fine. The same penalty applies to anyone who willfully lets a disqualified person work in the industry.
Get the Legal Help You Need
The team at O’Mara Law Group strives to provide the highest level of legal representation to those accused of federal white collar crimes, including insurance fraud. We believe a best defense is a good offense and encourage all those under federal investigation to obtain legal counsel immediately. We have worked with high-profile business executives as well as business subordinates at giant insurance companies. Contact our firm today to schedule a free, confidential consultation.