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Organized Scheme to Defraud

Tallahassee white collar lawyer

One of the most commonly prosecuted fraud crimes in Florida is called organized fraud or scheme to defraud. This offense allows the prosecutor to aggregate a series of small fraudulent acts into one larger crime. The crime can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony offense depending on whether property was obtained through the fradulent acts, and if so, the value of that property obtained.

Florida Statute Section 817.034(4)(a)1,2,3, Fla. Stat., for Organized Fraud or Scheme to Defraud requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt of the following elements:

  1. The defendant engaged in a systematic, ongoing course of conduct
  2. The defendant intented to defraud one or more persons, or intented to obtain property from one or more persons
  3. The act was committed by false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises or willful misrepresentations of a future act; and
  4. The defendant thereby obtained certain property listed in the charging document.

Tallahassee Organized Scheme to Defraud Defense Attorney

If you are charged with committing an organized scheme to defraud crime, contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Pumphrey Law. Our attorneys represent clients charged with theft and financial crimes throughout Tallahassee, Leon County and the surrounding areas of northern Florida. Call our office today at (850) 681-7777 to discuss your case.


Information About Organized Scheme to Defraud Charges in Florida


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Degrees of Organized Fraud in Tallahassee

In fraud cases, the amounts of value of separate properties obtained in one scheme to defraud, whether from the same person or from several persons, is aggregated when determining the grade of the offense. Florida’s fraud statute provides that separate judgments and sentences for organized fraud under Florida Statute Section 817.034(a) and for each offense of communications fraud may be imposed when all such offenses involve the same scheme to defraud.

If the defendant is charged with organized fraud, then the aggregate value of the property obtained determines the penalties and punishments as follows:

  • If the aggregate value of the property obtained was less than $20,000, the offense is a third-degree felony;
  • If the aggregate value of the property obtained was $20,000 or more but less than $50,000, the offense is a second-degree felony; and
  • If the aggregate value of the property obtained was $50,000 or more, the offense is a first-degree felony.

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Communications in Furtherance of the Scheme to Defraud

If a person engages in a scheme to defraud and, in furtherance of that scheme, communicates with any person with intent to obtain property from that person is guilty, for each such act of communication, of communications fraud, punishable as follows:

  1. If the value of the property obtained or endeavored to be obtained by the communication is valued at less than $300, the violator is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable by a $1,000 fine and up to 12 month in prison.
  2. If the value of property obtained or endeavored to be obtained by the communication is valued at $300 or more, the violator is guilty of a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years incarceration.

The term “communicate” means “to transmit or transfer or to cause another to transmit or transfer signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligences of any nature in whole or in part by mail, or by wire, radio, electromagnetic, photoelectronic or photooptical system.”

Lesser included offenses can include grand theft or petit theft.


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The Florida Communications Fraud Act

The Florida Communications Fraud Act was enacted as Florida Statute Section 817.034. The legislative intent recognized the proliferation of schemes to defraud in Florida, particularly those using communications technology to target a wider audience.

The statute of limitations is extended in criminal action or civil action or proceeding under the Florida Communications Fraud Act because the action may be commenced at any time within 5 years after the cause of action accrues. In a criminal proceeding under the Florida Communications Fraud Act, however, the period of limitation does not run “during any time when the defendant is continuously absent from the state or is without a reasonably ascertainable place of abode or work within the state, but in no case shall this extend the period of limitation otherwise applicable by more than 1 year.”


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Determining Value in Fraud Cases

The value can be determined in any of the following ways:

  1. Fair market value of the property at the time and place of the offense
  2. Value of a written instrument that does not have a readily ascertainable market value
  3. Value of a trade secret that does not have a readily ascertainable market value is any reasonable value representing the damage to the owner, suffered by reason of losing an advantage over those who do not know of or use the trade secret.

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Finding an Attorney for Organized Fraud in Leon County

If you have been charged with theft or organized scheme to defraud, contact an aggressive criminal defense attorney at Pumphrey Law. Call us to discuss your fraud case in Tallahassee, Leon County or the surrounding areas in North Florida. We can begin your defense today. Schedule a free consultation with a lawyer now.