Both Missouri and federal laws have many provisions defining a wide range of fraud offenses. Typically, federal authorities investigate for fraud in situations where they believe the criminal activity crossed state lines, the offense triggers a specific area of federal jurisdiction (such as certain finance regulations) or the fraud involves federal funding or agencies (such as Medicare fraud). Sometimes, federal agencies will work together with state authorities to gather evidence and prosecute.
You probably know that federal fraud charges are a serious matter and that conviction can entail severe penalties. However, many people mistakenly believe they do not need to worry until they officially face charges. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Why are they investigating you
Investigations often begin because of a tip from an employee, client or patient. In the case of healthcare fraud, agencies may also use a software algorithm to analyze providers' billing patterns and flag suspicious activity.
Federal fraud investigations tend to take a long time, as investigators gather evidence and build their case. Some people learn of the investigation when they receive a notification, a subpoena or a request for an interview. Others may notice earlier signs, such as investigators talking to employees or clients. Investigators may also use surveillance or obtain warrants for wiretapping or online monitoring.
Take the investigation seriously
The first contact with investigators may have a fairly casual tone. They may tell you they just want to have a talk with you, generally implying that all you have to do is explain yourself and everything will be fine.
The truth is that no matter how friendly they seem or how sure you are that you have actually done nothing wrong, you should not speak with law enforcement without first talking to your attorney. First, this conversation is very rarely the beginning of the investigation; it is far more likely that the agency has gathered a lot of material and believes there is a solid case against you. Second, it is very easy to say the wrong thing, provide information you should omit and omit information you should provide. Your best option is to get legal help as soon as you learn of the investigation.