Can I Get in Trouble for Making Fraudulent Returns to California Stores?

Posted on Tuesday, July 31st, 2018 at 10:54 am    

Almost anywhere you go in the United States, shopping is part of the culture. With so much commerce occurring on a day-to-day basis, it’s only natural that some people receive items that are not in the condition they expected. In such circumstances, returns are normal and expected. Recently, however, a situation arose highlighting the fact that returns can cause more issues than you might think. A 23-year-old man faces six felony charges for making fraudulent returns at Walmart. According to KSWT, a CNN affiliate, Thomas Frudaker conducted the questionable transactions at over 1,000 Walmarts in the last 18 months.

The laws that govern fraud are complex. A Los Angeles fraud defense attorney can keep an honest misunderstanding from turning into a criminal charge. If you’re facing a fraud investigation in the Los Angeles area, contact Spolin Law P.C. today. Our lawyers understand how fraud cases progress, and will be able to help you throughout every step of the way.

Call (310) 424-5816, or fill out our online form today to schedule a free initial consultation.

Missing Parts Raise Concern Over Returns

Frudaker attracted suspicion when he attempted to return a computer in Yuma, Arizona. Parts were apparently missing from the machine, prompting authorities to look into Frudaker’s purchasing habits. It was discovered that, over the last year and a half, he had made similar returns at over 1,000 Walmarts across the United States.

For making roughly 1.3 million dollars worth of false returns, Frudaker faces six felony charges. Among his counts are theft, fraudulent schemes, and criminal damage. His bail was set at $40,000.

Return Fraud is Theft in California

California Penal Code defines theft as taking something, intentionally and unlawfully, with the intent to deprive the true owner of its use or enjoyment. If you obtain property that isn’t yours through false pretenses, falsity, or through other means of deceit, you have committed theft by fraud. Some common examples of return fraud are:

  • Returning an item you know to be stolen, by yourself or someone else, for money or store credit
  • Forging a receipt to show you purchased an item that you did not
  • Forging a receipt to show you purchased an item for more than you actually paid
  • Returning an item to a different store for more than you originally purchased it for
  • Acquiring an item at a store and returning it before purchasing it

Return fraud can be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony in California. What specific charge you face depends on the value of what you attempted to return. Penalties for return fraud range from one to three years in prison, as well as fines between one and ten thousand dollars.

Facing Charges for Fraudulent Returns? Call Us Today for Help

Being found guilty of return fraud hinges largely on intent. In order for a theft crime to be proven, it must be shown that you both knew and intended to return something you did not purchase. Whether you intentionally and knowingly did something depends on a wide range of factors. It’s possible that not all these factors have been considered in your case.

A skilled fraud attorney will be able to weigh all these factors while putting together your defense. If you’re facing a fraud investigation in the Los Angeles area, your first call should be to Spolin Law P.C.. Whatever your case is, our lawyers have the experience to provide you with a comprehensive defense.

Call (310) 424-5816 or use our online form to schedule a free, initial case evaluation.


Theranos Founder Indicted of Federal Wire Fraud Charges in California

Posted on Monday, July 2nd, 2018 at 10:42 am    

Elizabeth Holmes dropped out of Stanford in 2003 to found Theranos, a medical technology company that would at one point be worth roughly $9 billion. Since then, Holmes has suffered quite the reversal of fortune. Along with former COO and president of Theranos Ramesh Balwani, Holmes is facing a potentially lengthy prison sentence stemming from her indictment on federal wire fraud charges. As it turns out, many of the high-profile investments that propelled Theranos to such a lofty worth were acquired dishonestly. Holmes and Balwani stand accused of defrauding their investors out of significant sums of money. If found guilty, they could see significant fines in addition to potential prison time.

If you’re in Los Angeles and need help finding the fine line between a simple mistake and fraud, contact Spolin Law P.C.. Our lawyers have the knowledge and dedication to put your defense together. Schedule a free consultation with an experienced Los Angeles fraud defense attorney today by calling (310) 424-5816.

Were the Lies Told to Investors Fraud, or Just Wrong?

Theranos attracted several notable investors in its early days as a business. These investors were attracted, according to the allegations against Holmes, by misleading remarks about how well Theranos’ medical technology worked. Supposedly, there were functionality problems with the technology that both Holmes and Balwani were aware of. In spite of this, they maintained that their machines could compete with the market standard. Holmes and Balwani are also accused of inflating Theranos’ revenue projections, and referencing a fictitious contract with the Department of Defense.

Second Form of Fraud Connected to False Advertisement

The charges against Holmes and Balwani also outline a second form of alleged fraud, more nuanced than simply lying to investors. Theranos made its blood-testing technology available for use at Walgreens. Through an advertising campaign, Theranos encouraged doctors and patients to have blood tests performed at those Walgreens locations, using Theranos technology. A portion of the money Walgreens customers paid for those blood tests went to Theranos, and by extension – Holmes and Balwani. The case against them alleges that money was acquired through fraud.

Potential Fraud Results in Large Possible Sentence

In total, Holmes, Balwani, and Theranos are accused of defrauding investors out of roughly $700 million dollars. Holmes and Balwani are each charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and nine counts of wire fraud. What punishment they will ultimately face depends on how much of that money they have left. If the money is gone, both will likely face between 15 and 20 years in prison. They could also each be fined up to $250,000, plus addition reparations for each count of conspiracy and fraud.

Was There Intent to Commit Fraud?

In a case such as this, the prosecution bears the burden of proof. That means they must show beyond a reasonable doubt that the actions of Holmes and Balwani showed an unquestionable intent to commit fraud. This question can be decided by examining the related evidence, such as communications between the accused parties, as well as their personal notes.

Facing Wire Fraud Charges? An Attorney Can Help

As the story of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos shows, fraud cases are complicated. Selling your product and making predictions about your company, inhabits a gray area where the truth is concerned. While you may not be sure how to navigate the legal system, our lawyers will put every piece of your defense into place. If you have questions about fraud crimes, fraud consequences, or any fraud law applicable to your situation, contact Spolin Law P.C. today.

Call (310) 424-5816, or use the online form to set up a free case consultation.