The most common types of financial crime in Florida
Financial crimes have become pervasive in society, causing significant losses and distress to individuals and businesses alike. In Florida, a hotspot for tourism and economic activity, financial crimes are unfortunately not an exception.
In 2020, overall crime dropped by 14.1%, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, but certain crimes continue to be a problem. One of these is financial crimes. Financial crimes are common due to the transient nature of the population.
Identity theft is a prevalent financial crime in the Sunshine State. It occurs when someone steals another person’s personal information, such as their Social Security number or financial data, to commit fraud. Identity thieves can wreak havoc on others’ lives by opening fraudulent accounts, making unauthorized purchases or even applying for loans under a fraudulent name. Law enforcement takes identity theft seriously, with penalties that can include prison sentences and restitution.
The significant housing boom in the early 2000s made it ripe for mortgage fraud. This financial crime involves dishonest practices related to obtaining or refinancing mortgages. Common tactics include inflating property values, providing false information on loan applications and engaging in straw-buyer schemes.
Investment and securities fraud
Florida’s large retiree population makes it a prime investment and securities fraud target. Scammers often target unsuspecting individuals with promises of high returns on their investments, using Ponzi schemes or other fraudulent tactics. A person can suffer substantial financial losses in these schemes, and those responsible can face criminal charges.
Insurance fraud involves filing false insurance claims or exaggerating losses to receive a payout. Common types of insurance fraud include auto, healthcare and property insurance fraud. Convictions for insurance fraud can lead to imprisonment and restitution payments.
Tax evasion is a serious crime that involves intentionally underreporting income or hiding assets to reduce tax liability. Tax evasion can result in criminal charges, fines and even imprisonment. Residents must comply with federal and state tax laws to avoid legal consequences.
Financial crimes significantly threaten individuals, businesses and the overall economy. Law enforcement agencies actively investigate and prosecute financial crimes to protect the state’s residents and maintain the integrity of its financial systems.