Nick Lotito & Seth Kirschenbaum

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Atlanta Federal Criminal Defense Law Blog

If you are committing fraud, don't brag about it

$140 million is a lot of money, even for a business that plays in the big leagues.

That was the fine levied against an oil services company, Weatherford International, by the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) to settle charges that it inflated its earnings by using deceptive income tax accounting. From 2007 to 2012 the company overstated its profits by $900 million. In each of those years, the company lowered its year-end provision for income taxes by $100 million to $154 million to "better align its earnings results with its earlier-announced projections and analysts' expectations," according to an SEC order.

The ins and outs of the Sherman Act

Competition is the foundation of the capitalist economy here in the United States. Our free market encourages innovation and fuels the development of products and services that enrich the lives of consumers throughout the country and here in Atlanta.

When it appears that a company or an individual is stifling that competitive spirit, the government might step in and make accusations that the country's antitrust laws are being violated. Three main antitrust laws govern fair trade in the United States, and while most violations are dealt with under civil law, criminal charges are possible under the Sherman Act.

Common errors that can lead to Medicare fraud charges

Because so many people are involved in a patient's care, the potential for Medicare fraud is enormous. One simple mistake in record-keeping can cause a billing disaster that leads to serious issues for you, whether you are a physician, pharmacist, physical therapist or any other kind of health care professional who represents a link in a chain of caregivers.

Recent arrests shine light on health care fraud

When the Affordable Care Act -- aka Obamacare -- was passed, it gave more resources and tools to fight fraud in federal health care programs. One such tool was $350 million to hire added prosecutors and investigators for the fight against fraud. The law also made for harsher sentencing in criminal prosecutions of health care fraud and improves upon provider and supplier screenings. The ACA also boosts the sharing of data across all levels of government.

On June 18, 2016, Sylvia M. Burwell, secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, announced a national Medicare fraud strike that caused charges to be filed against 243 persons for falsely billing about $712 million in false billings.

Panama Papers shine light on money laundering, related crimes

The Panama Papers have made a lot of headlines, partially for the people named in them, but also for the allegations against them. Many of the individuals implicated in the Papers have been suspected of money laundering and other types of white collar crime.

For anyone accused of laundering money, both federal and state charges can be brought. That can mean the need for a quick and thorough legal defense, to protect the interests of the accused as much as possible. If you have been accused of money laundering, understanding the charges against you is very important.

Credit card fraud promises big rewards, but risks are greater

We live in a society so dependent on credit and debit cards that people hardly seem to notice when and where their money comes and goes. Gone are the days of balancing checkbooks and counting bills. We often don't know how much money we have until we look at a bank statement once a month.

These somewhat lax tendencies can increase the temptation to skim off the accounts of unsuspecting consumers, especially for those who regularly handle others' credit cards. But credit card fraud isn't limited to one industry or demographic. You may work in retail, mail services or any business that handles financial transactions. Or you may have simply happened across a lost credit card. The intended monetary gain may be fairly insignificant or in the tens of thousands of dollars.

When 'house flipping' turns into real estate fraud

Not so long ago, the practice of buying residential property at a low price, renovating it and selling it for a profit was all the rage. Popular reality TV shows such as "Flip That House" wooed viewers into thinking that the practice was a relatively easy way to make money in the real estate industry.

Not only are these prospects much more difficult to pull off than the shows portrayed, but in some cases the practice of "house flipping" is illegal and punishable by heavy fines and prison time. If you've been implicated in a mortgage fraud scheme involving a flipped property, you undoubtedly have questions about where things went wrong and what your risk is of being prosecuted.

3 things you should know about DUI convictions in Georgia

The holiday season carries so many expectations: quality time with family and close friends, gift exchanges, and yes, invitations to at least a few parties. It's a hectic, fast-paced time of year, which means that most of us also feel some amount of stress and possibly even depression amid the shopping and celebrating.

Whatever your state of mind is at this time of year, you may find yourself with a festive cocktail in hand more often. Therefore, it's important to be mindful of the consequences of driving while intoxicated. Most drivers are aware that driving with a blood-alcohol concentration of more than .08 percent is illegal. But there's much more you need to know.

Healthy competition vs. illegal price-fixing: Where's the line?

It doesn't take an MBA to understand that raising or lowering the price of a product affects a company's competition in the market. Whether it's in response to consumer demand or a competitor's change in its pricing, companies are free to set the prices of their own goods or services. It's one of the main tenets of our free market economy.

But there are limitations to what companies can do when raising or lowering prices. A prime example is price-fixing, in which two or more companies agree to restrict competition by raising, lowering or stabilizing their prices. This business practice is illegal, and those who engage in it can face heavy penalties from the government agencies that enforce antitrust laws.

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