California Business & Professions Code Section 17511.9 BPC: Telemarketing Fraud

1. Definition and Elements of the Crimetelemarketing fraud

Telemarketers must abide by certain restrictions that have been set forth by the California legislature regarding how they can conduct business. Those who engage in telemarketing fraud can be prosecuted under California Business and Professions Code Section 17511.9 BPC. This is a very serious offense that can result in a felony conviction.

To prove a defendant is guilty under California Business and Professions Code Section 17511.9 BPC, a prosecutor would have to prove up the following elements:

  1. The defendant was any person, including but not limited to, the seller, a salesperson, agent or representative of the seller, or an independent contractor

  2. AND the defendant directly or indirectly employed any device, scheme or artifice to deceive in connection with the offer or sale by any telephonic seller

  3. OR the defendant willfully, directly or indirectly engaged in any act, practice or course of business which operated or would operate as a fraud or deceit upon any person in connection with a sale by any telephonic seller.
2. Related Offenses

Other similar or related offenses include:

  1. Making False or Misleading Statements in Advertising – California Business and Professions Code Section 17500 BPC
  2. Inaccurate Pricing – California Business and Professions Code Section 12024.2 BPC
  3. Annoying Phone Calls – California Penal Code Section 653(m) PC
3. Examples

A man buys a “robocaller” device and programs a message purporting to sell insurance products to people over the phone. The man uses the device to call thousands of people each day. While most of the people hang up on him, some provide their credit card information when prompted and are charged exorbitant amounts. The man never supplies any insurance products. Among other crimes, the man could be charged with telemarketing fraud in violation of California Business and Professions Code Section 17511.9 BPC.

4. Defenses to Telemarketing Fraud

California Business and Professions Code Section 17511.9 BPC provides guidelines on how a person can legitimately conduct a telemarketing operation. If the defendant did not commit fraud and if he did not violate any of the restrictions set forth by law, there would be no criminal liability under this section.

5. How a Telemarketing Fraud Case is Defended

Typically, a person will be informed that his or her company is being investigated for telemarketing fraud. Retaining a skilled Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney early into the investigation process is critical, as early intervention may result in a case being rejected or charges being significantly reduced.

If telemarketing fraud is charged as a misdemeanor, the case would be heard before a judge of the Los Angeles County Superior Court. The defendant can plead to the charges or can have a trial, where a jury of his or her peers would have to make a determination regarding guilt.

If telemarketing fraud charges are filed as a felony, the District Attorney would have to first show there is probable cause supporting the charges. This is done at a preliminary examination before a judge. If the defendant is held to answer on the charges, he or she would then have the option of a judge or jury trial. If found guilty, the defendant would be subject to the following penalties.

6. Penalties

Telemarketing fraud is what is considered a “wobbler” offense that can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the magnitude of the crime and the criminal history, if any, of the defendant. If the case is filed as a felony, the defendant can be sentenced to a maximum of three years if convicted. If filed as a misdemeanor, the maximum punishment that can be assessed is a year in county jail. In addition to jail or prison sentences, the defendant can be assessed a fine of up to $10,000 for each unlawful transaction involved.

6. Criminal Defense for Telemarketing Fraud Cases

If you or your company is being investigated for or has been charged with telemarketing fraud, it is crucial that you speak with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer as soon as possible. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut knows how to effectively defend businesses and individuals charged with crimes such as this. Mr. Kraut was formerly assigned to the elite Major Fraud Division of the District Attorney’s Office and is highly skilled in assisting clients charged with white collar offenses.

For more information about telemarketing fraud, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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