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  • How Many Ways Can You Spell "Fraud"?

    The Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act of 2013, introduced in the Senate last month, would make it a felony to make false statements on affidavits in order to receive federal funding. Sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it?

    Now there will finally be a law on the books that will enable federal prosecutors to go after liars who cost the public money. Oh wait—that law is already on the books.

    Fraud has been a common law crime for hundreds of years, and it is already a felony in every state as well as on the federal level. There are federal statutes explicitly criminalizing mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, health care fraud, and so forth. (There is even a bill before Congress that would specifically criminalize the mislabeling of maple syrup.) The False Claims Act, which has been on the books since 1863, also criminalizes the act of presenting “a false claim for payment.” The new anti-fraud bill is completely unnecessary.

    Perhaps the problem is that the current punishments for fraud are not sufficiently onerous to deter this crime. The bill would impose a $4,000 fine and up to one year in prison, in addition to the penalty for any other offense that a culprit commits. This new punishment would sit atop the 30-year sentence (and more than $1 million in fines) already available. How many criminals think to themselves: I can risk committing fraud if I’ll be facing only 30 years in prison, but 31 years is just too much.

    How will this new anti-fraud statute benefit society? It won’t. We already have more than enough laws to combat fraud. If Congress believes that there is a significant, unaddressed fraud crime spree, then what we might need is more FBI agents, prosecutors, defense counsel, and so forth. But that would require Congress to spend real money; this provision effectively costs nothing.

    However, it also does nothing to fight fraud. The bill does not better equip law enforcement agents and prosecutors to fight crime, and there is no new deterrent effect on would-be criminals. All it does is allow politicians to claim that they are being tough on crime.

    The public needs to stop applauding these empty gestures and start demanding actual results.

    Gavriel Swerling is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm.

    Posted in Legal [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to How Many Ways Can You Spell "Fraud"?

    1. Bobbie says:

      This government is derelict in all their responsibilities that this country can't stand! They have no concern for us who pay their way and we're done paying for this dispicable, inhuman siege of control. Today's government workers attitude is above the law with only disrespect for it. Obama's government isn't going to enforce the law if they can cheat the tax payers. Obama ignores the laws already existing so he can convolute the laws and reflect the illusion government is doing something all in the name of higher taxes! Getting rid of fraud, corruption, waste, everything illegal within government control would reduce taxes!

      Because we're forced to trust people that have taken matters beyond our control but shows only reasons not to trust with corruption in all areas, while tax paid members of government spreads racist misconceptions and hatred, brings government tyranny to America!

    2. Fred says:

      Oh come on you know they will stop commiting these crimes, because our Gov. will prosecute them to the fulliest extent of this law. Did they not go after the NEW black panthers for violence at voting poling sites? Or our Attorney General and others connected with Fast and Furious for the murder of 2 border agents? Or how they go after the illegals who are bringing drugs across our borders for our children to use. Yes Sir, you can sleep well knowing they will stop the bad boys from commiting crimes.

    3. votedemout says:

      Gavriel,

      You seem to be focused on legal issues, so I wonder is anyone at Heritage putting together a list of laws, regulations, and governmental departments that need either massive reform, repeal or dissolution. If not, why not, for if conservatives are fortunate enough to take control of government after the upcoming election we need a very detailed plan to hold the politicians to the necessary tasks. In the past the big problem has been that after the orgasmic glow of the election has passed they go right back into re-election mode rather than doing any heavy lifting. Witness the ridiculous agreement that John Boehner came up with on deficit reduction, basically a rounding error. We need a sunset law that causes all regulations to be revisited after a period. We need a law that forces the congress to assess the cost of any regulation and a table to determine whether or not the cost can be justified. We need to sanitize our voting laws and make it a felony to participate in any voter fraud. We need to end any unfunded mandates. If we are serious about reducing health care costs, we need to force tort reform down the attorney's throats and include a loser pays provision. Along with this we need to repeal the ambulance chaser bill that allows attornies to advertise potential law suits. I could go on Ad infinitum, but I think you see where I am going. We all know that congress, especially the Senate, see themselves as the smartest people in the room, but that has not proven to be the case. Heritage is in a unique position to make this happen and I hope that you and your associates are up to the task.

    4. Doc Hilliard says:

      The GSA itself is the source of major fraud upon American taxpayers, what with "conventions". "awards", and really expensive hotel, food, booze, and "escort" expenses! Obama needs to stop his expensive "vacations" , and especially those of his wife and illegal alien relatives, and start to put in a workday on behalf of Americans – he can start by firing most of the GSA overhead staff and management.

    5. Leon Lundquist says:

      I have come to view Agencies of the Federal Government as racketeering, influenced and corrupt organizations. This is proof the Rule Of Law means nothing to these Democrats, they would make new law with nothing, nothing at all to gain, it means they don't know the Law because they don't care about the Law. Doesn't this prove criminal negligence in Office? No kidding, these Demo-crats are the face of our Domestic Enemy. They are Influenced, clearly by the Black Panther Case, Refraining Prosecution. That's a Crime. Eric Holder stonewalls the Oversight Committee, that's a crime. Just the fact of Communists and Islamofacists being members of our government Agencies is a crime. It is not lawful to appoint Enemies into government service! See? That's criminal mischief in the Obama Administration, but look closely, there is genuine criminality in all the Departments and Agencies. They practice Cruel And Unusual Punishment with crazy out of this world fines and sentences for what are, or used to be Civil matters!

      Let's say I cause a controversy on the corner on my soapbox. They have redefined Fraud so as to add my spew of Deregulating Medicine but they prosecute for my "lies" that patients 'practice' Medicine. They send the swat team. "Oops!" but then I have to pay the bill for the government's over reaction. So sure, there is nothing new to the Bill. But just you wait for Human Services interpretation, sure! "Patients are doing the actual practice of Medicine" that's a lie. Yet it is the practical truth of it. Doctors can't help people who don't participate in their cures. A million dollars later they say "Yeah! Patients practice Medicine" but it is too late for me, the damage already has been done. The Progressives have already won, using the Government as their tool of Intimidation.

    6. Leon Lundquist says:

      The House Of Representatives has to stand up and Abolish Criminal Departments. Defund big chunks of the Agencies who are perping this fraud. Yes! The Fraud of the Obama Administration misrepresenting themselves as Loyal Americans.

    7. Simonstar says:

      If anything, the new fraud law would complicate things. It seems to me that it just serves as a way to tell people that 'Yes', the government are doing something to combat fraud. It does not have much merits, and might even slow down the persecuting process.

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