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New York Criminal Defense Blog

Pyramid schemes versus ponzi schemes

Any financial crime can come with crippling costs, especially when it comes to actions related to pyramid or Ponzi schemes. Although most New York residents may assume these two crimes are the same, they involve different strategies. Although different in many ways, they can come with the same lasting effects on a person's life. 

As the Better Business Bureau explains, pyramid schemes generally span over shorter periods of time and involve recruiting other participants to make profits. Concentrating more heavily on the participants themselves than the actual supposed product, pyramid schemes frequently promise large amounts of money with little to no effort. Unlike Ponzi schemes, in which operators scout out new and vulnerable investors, pyramid schemes may only focus on the opportunity alone, mentioning little of the sale's purpose. Large start-up costs are another common promise at play in these financial ploys.

Understanding new york's counterfeit laws

When most New Yorkers think of counterfeit crimes, fake money typically comes to mind. However, there are a myriad of ways one can carry out this federal crime. More recently, there has been a seizure of parking placards in the state -- an item that has fuelled a black market industry over the years. While the act seemed minor in some ways, the penalties for these types of crimes can be serious.

As The New York Times relayed in a report on the incident, 30 people faced various charges last October for possession of a forged instrument, criminal impersonation and other illegal practices. The New York residents had used fake placards that emulated official city-issued documents to park in special zones without paying the price of a ticket. Five of the 30 allegedly used handicapped zone passes; three others were accused of submitting copies of the false placards to the city's financial department. One official from the Department of Investigation considered the crimes an act of stealing the city's resources. 

Business email compromises: a new threat

No matter how the situation panned out, a fraud charge can often be the beginning of a long and arduous legal battle. Some New York residents who have faced repercussions for such charges are left picking up the pieces long after a charge has come and gone. According to some sources, a new type of fraud has swept across the nation: business email compromises.

Last month, Forbes spent time explaining this relatively new wire transfer scam that has ultimately cost over $5 billion worldwide. Defined by the Federal Bureau of Investigations as "business email compromises," these scams occur when hackers collect information from various companies, acquiring sensitive information such as billing account statements. Then imitating customers, fraudsters can steal identities and bill the targeted company with directions to a scam bank account. Not only have fraudsters attacked companies across the map; Forbes adds that the issue has recently leaked into private sectors, wherein home buyers have become a central target. 

Understanding the details of narcotics laws

Penalties attached to most drug-related crimes can quickly become mountainous. When these crimes involve narcotics, the repercussions can become all the more extreme. While New York has worked diligently to address the antiquated elements within its Rockefeller Drug Laws, the penalties can nevertheless be severe, resulting in charges that can affect a person's reputation and overall quality of life.

As of 2015, The New York Post reported that a small number of New Yorkers were still behind bars under strict Rockefeller drug laws. However, The Post remarked on the state's recent efforts to minimize the number of inmates locked up for nonviolent drug crimes. These laws have been critized for the strict ways they handle even small possessions of cocaine or marijuana. Although marijuana left the list of drugs in 1979 -- and reforms made in 2005 and 2009 did away with mandatory minimum sentences for the drug -- some inmates continue to serve time for such charges. 

Mortgage fraud is complex and must be taken seriously

The mortgage industry deals with high-dollar investments in massive quantities. There is a lot of room for error, but there are many different instances in which something will go amiss that is viewed as more than just a mistake during the process.

Some people who are being accused of mortgage fraud might not have ever heard the term before. For those individuals, this is a very scary time because they have to figure out how to address criminal charges with which they aren't familiar. Here are some important points to know about this type of crime.

Safeguards against investment fraud

When New York residents want to invest their money, they typically trust financial professionals to guide them through the process. Sometimes, though, someone may embezzle money instead of investing it. It is important for people to recognize different kinds of investment fraud and understand how they can protect themselves.

There are many types of investment fraud. says that sometimes people might use a kind called advance fee fraud to embezzle money. When people use this kind of fraud, they typically ask someone to pay a fee before they buy stock that is not worth much. In a pump-and-dump scheme, people sometimes think that a particular stock is favorable and purchase it at a high price. In this situation, though, the information about the stock was false, and people find that their stock is worthless.

More alleged dealers targeted for drug deaths

People in New York who are accused of crimes involving illegal or prescription drugs have long had to work hard to defend themselves and protect their rights when facing these allegations. Now their challenges may be increasing as more emphasis is being put on finding people to blame for the deaths of those who die due to drug overdoses. Rather than simply acknowledging that a person may have had a drug addiction that ended up claiming their life, authorities want instead to hold someone else accountable. The alleged drug dealers may well be the someone else in many cases.

One man who lived in Williamsville has recently been indicted for his alleged role as the leader of a group of people that included four others who are said to have sold fentanyl and heroin to at least five people who have subsequently died. The group is said to have conducted its drug sales in Amherst and Buffalo. Reports indicate that for two years multiple law enforcement agencies worked together with the Drug Enforcement Administration to investigate the defendants prior to searching the home of the man said to be the group's leader.

What is "churning?"

Wise use of your money may include placing it in investment accounts in the hope of generating a strong return over time. However, if you are like most in New York, you are more than likely a "hands off" investor that leaves the management of your portfolio to a professional. There is wisdom in this; after all, the industry specific knowledge and experience a broker brings makes him or her more likely to develop a sound investment strategy. However, relying solely on him or her may open the door for fraud. One form of such fraud is known as "churning." 

What exactly is churning? Your broker makes commissions when he or she uses your money to execute sales and trades. Thus, he or she is incentivized to do so. Churning occurs when he or she engages in excessive trading to generate increased commissions. According to the Securities and Exchange Commission, a broker that has discretionary power over your investment accounts and effects transactions that are excessive "in view of the financial resources and character" of your account is guilty of fraud. 

What a white collar crime means in new york

No matter the situation, a white collar charge can become incredibly complex and time-consuming. It is for this reason that such cases are generally handled very seriously. New York has long been familiar with these types of crimes, but what might they mean for the defendants themselves?

The New York Post spent time considering white collar crimes in the state, immediately recognizing the differences between New York law and federal law. The Post highlighted the case of Congressman Michael Grimm, who evaded payroll taxes with a restaurant he owned. Grimm's schemes also lowered workers' compensation insurance premiums that the business owed. Also taking into account other recent arrests on the same charges, The Post looks at the state's 2004 Crimes Against Revenue Program, which requires people who cheat the state's system to pay fines and money owed. When it comes to technological white collar crimes, it appears that New York has many gray areas, resulting in an unclear foundation on the state's decisions to avoid pursuing criminal charges.

Are america's federal drug laws too strict?

Propelled through popular media portrayals, federal drug charges are no form of entertainment in reality. New York's penalties surrounding such crimes can have lasting effects on individuals who might not have even had a strong hand in the incident. There have been many instances of controversy in regard to the ways the nation handles serious drug charges, but many would argue that the severity of penalties often far outweighs the crimes themselves.

Earlier today, Public News Service released an article on America's drug laws and the penalties currently in effect. The news outlet found through a study that jail time does not necessarily deter people from committing drug-related crimes. Despite President Trump's demand for harsher sentences -- that even go as far as to call for the death penalty for drug traffickers -- experts in drug research claim stricter repercussions may not be the answer. While New York's drug imprisonment rates have been some of the lowest in the nation, other states such as Louisiana have had the highest incarceration rate in the U.S. As a result, taxpayers have taken the ultimate blow, and penalties have had no significant effects on actual drug users.

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