Felony fraud is a type of criminal act. Essentially, fraud is using deceptive actions to harm another party or to benefit personally. For example, a person who uses the postal service to illegally obtain money from another party may be guilty of fraud. Felony fraud is the most serious type of fraud; it often involves government agencies, large sums of money, or very valuable assets and carries higher penalties than more minor fraud offenses. Minor fraud cases may be referred to as misdemeanor offenses.
One of the types of fraud that many people are familiar with is check fraud. For example, a person may commit check fraud if he passes off a bad check to a merchant, creates a fake check, or forges someone else's signature on a check. Different jurisdictions have different laws concerning check fraud, and in most cases, the severity of the crime determines whether it is considered a felony or a misdemeanor. If a person has used fraudulent check writing techniques to steal large sums of money or merchandise, or if he has repeatedly used check fraud to obtain money or merchandise, this may be considered a felony.
Another type of fraud that may carry a felony conviction is insurance fraud. This may occur, for example, when a party intentionally makes false statements in order to secure benefits or ensure the payment of a claim. A person might forge a death certificate, for example, for the purpose of cashing in on insurance policy proceeds to which he is not entitled or to impersonate another party and obtain medical services using the insured person's medical policy. An individual may even stage a car accident in order to collect money from an insurance policy. Whether or not these and other types of insurance fraud are considered felonies depends on the severity of the crime and the jurisdiction in which the crime was committed.
The penalties for a person who commits fraud typically depend on the laws that are applicable in his jurisdiction. In some jurisdictions, a person who commits fraud in order to steal money, merchandise, or services valued at less than $500 US Dollars (USD) may be guilty of a misdemeanor. If he commits fraud and steals more than this, he may be guilty of a felony. Penalties are stiffer for felony fraud cases and often include long prison sentences and hefty fines.