Attorney Behr’s mortgage fraud prosecutions series continues with the following EXCERPT:
§ 877.54, Fla. Stat. (2009) should be reduced to an attempt because the crime was not completed.108 The defendant reasoned the corporation “…was not deceived as a result of any false representations and issued the check in an attempt to lure her presence and facilitate her arrest.”109 The court agreed with the defendant and determined the record did “…not demonstrate reliance by the victim on the defendant’s misrepresentations.”110
Furthermore, § 877.54, Fla. Stat. (2009) and § 877.10, Fla. Stat. (2009) are similar to the mail, wire and bank fraud statutes because it is evidence of a defendant’s involvement in “…the scheme to defraud and not actual fraud that is required.”111 “No particular type of victim is required…nor need the scheme have succeeded.”112 Although the government need not prove there is any reliance or injury, it must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the evidence shows a “…willful participation in [the] scheme with knowledge of its fraudulent nature and with intent that these illicit objectives be achieved.”113 However, a defendant may have a complete defense to wire fraud, bank fraud, or money laundering negating the specific intent element of the statutes if a jury determines a defendant acted in a good faith belief his or her actions were not illegal.114
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