Reports of Scammers Taking Advantage of Texas Power Outages
Although Texas is not often highlighted in the news for its snowstorms, the recent deadly snowstorms throughout the state placed the Lone Star State at the top of the news cycle. Many news outlets reported how a shortage of natural gas left Texans without power in the midst of freezing temperatures and non-stop snow. Coined “Winter Storm Uri,” the Texas snowstorm resulted in numerous tragedies, including one mother’s devastating story of losing her own mother and three children in a fire that was being used to keep them warm during the power outages. With conditions like these, one would think that the state would rally together, but unfortunately, the panic-induced conditions have led to reports of alleged white collar crimes.
Warnings from the FTC
You have likely received numerous unknown calls over the years in which the person on the other line pretends to be informing you of overdue charges, identity theft, and more. Typically, you can pick up on the recorded, robotic voice or notice that the information they are asking you for is financially related. But what about those times when you are caught off guard, such as during a statewide, devastating snowstorm? Last week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a warning about scammers targeting those without power due to the weather conditions. According to the warning, scammers often use these conditions to their advantage, knowing that you may have had your electricity, heat, or water turned off and pose as your utility company. The person on the other line may apologize for your loss of power and offer you a reimbursement for your most recent payment, first asking for your bank account information. You may also receive an email stating that there is an error in their system and that they need your personal information before turning on your gas again. You can also receive false threats that your utilities will be turned off if money is not sent over immediately. All of these scare tactics, especially in the midst of a statewide emergency, can be convincing enough to leave many desperate Texans with empty bank accounts.
The Consequences for Committing Fraud
Scams like these are considered a white collar crime, labeled as “securing execution of document by deception.” In other words, this offense is committed when one person deceives another with the intent of defrauding or harming the other person financially. The severity of this charge is dependent upon the amount of money collected. This can range greatly from a Class C misdemeanor for less than $100 stolen property to a second degree felony for stolen property between the value of $150,000 and $300,000. Those involved in the scam outlined by the FTC likely collected a high sum of money and will face significant fines and time behind bars.
Contact a Collin County White Collar Crime Defense Attorney
Some may think that white collar crimes are not charged as harshly since no one was physically harmed by the person’s actions. This is not the case, especially in scams like the one outlined above. If you are facing accusations of being involved in a white collar crime, you need a qualified criminal defense attorney’s help. Contact our Plano, Texas white collar crime defense lawyers today at 214-303-9600 to schedule your free consultation.