Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has put out an urgent alert to people to watch out for Coronavirus stimulus check scams. As you have most likely heard, the federal government recently passed a historic $2 trillion stimulus package in an effort to keep the economy going during this unprecedented pandemic. The main part of this stimulus package is to give $1,200 to every American in form of direct payments that are not expected to be repaid or taxed. These scams are come in the form of emails where the scammers are acting as government officials ready to give citizens their stimulus money. Scammers are asking for personal financial information such as Paypal or bank accounts so people can get their stimulus money immediately. As of this writing, none of the stimulus money has actually been distributed by the federal government yet. It is expected to take a few weeks before these direct payments begin making their way to people’s bank accounts. If you have e-filed in the past and allowed the government to directly deposit your tax return into your bank account, then it is supposed to happen automatically. Others who have not had their returns deposited in the past will receive checks in the mail.
The World Since Coronavirus Hit Us
The world has come to a screeching halt in some places as this virus has spread in unprecedented ways. The problem was initially believed to be a local problem centered in China, where it is believed to have originated. Michigan’s cases of coronavirus have exploded in recent weeks, and Detroit is considered one of the world’s worst hotspots for the virus currently. The state of Michigan has had nearly 5,500 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of this writing with over 125 deaths. The governor has declared a state of emergency in the state and has entered a “shelter in place” order that has left many Michiganders stuck at home. This stimulus package was unanimously passed by the United States Senate with a 96-0 vote. Internet scammers are looking to profit off of the fear and hysteria that this virus has caused.
Possible Federal Charges
Those who are involved with these scams face possible state and federal criminal charges. Under state law, scammers can face felony fraud charges since the amount of the stimulus checks is over $1,000. This would result a five-year maximum felony charge. Federally, scammers face the possibility of being charged under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act or being charged with Mail or Wire Fraud. This sort of crime takes advantage of the anonymous nature of the internet in an effort to defraud unsuspecting people. Convictions under the Computer Fraud and Abuse act can result in federal prison time of up to 20 years in certain circumstances. Mail or wire fraud involves using the United States Mail or a telephone line to commit the fraudulent activities. A conviction for mail or wire fraud can result in a federal prison sentence of up to 20 years. More serious consequences exist, however, for those who are believed to try to scam any benefit authorized by the federal government during times of a major disaster or a declared emergency. A conviction for mail or wire fraud in these circumstances can lead to a federal prison sentence of up to 30 years and up to a $1,000,000 fine for each offense. With the state of the world as unsure and scared as it is. It is not expected that any people who are charged with this type of offense will be treated lightly. You should expect the full force of the federal government and court for any conviction relating to these crimes.
Any Further Questions?
If you or a loved one is being investigated for fraud or has already been charged, then it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Grabel & Associates, our attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience in successfully defending criminal cases all over the state of Michigan. We are not a general practice firm. We are a team of criminal defense attorneys; it’s all we do. We offer a FREE consultation to anyone with questions relating to a possible or existing criminal charge against them or a loved one. Feel free to contact us on our 24/7 defense line at 1-800-342-7896. You can also contact us online or come visit us at one of our three statewide locations. We can also come to you.