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"There was absolutely no corporate policy to get money through whatever means necessary," said Attorney Chris Van Wagner in an interview with Good Morning America regarding the charges filed against his client for RICO - racketeering.

False pretenses, larceny by trick, cyberfraud, Internet fraud are forms of Wisconsin statutory fraud crimes.

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Criminal Fraud

Under Wisconsin law, a person may be criminally charged with a fraud crime, and under civil law, a person may be sued for a noncriminal fraudulent tort. The criminal defense lawyers, Attorney Christopher (Chris) Van Wagner and Attorney Tracey Wood, of Van Wagner & Wood, Madison WI are exclusively devoted to helping people who have been accused, arrested or criminally charged with criminal fraud in the state of Wisconsin courts.

Fraud Defined

Fraud is defined as knowingly misrepresenting the truth or concealing an actual fact for the purpose of inducing another person to act to his or her detriment. Under Wisconsin law, fraud is not in and of itself a crime (people can deceive one another without that deception being criminal), rather, fraud is the means by which a crime is caused to occur or the manner in which a crime occurs; it is the act of deceiving another person. Under Wisconsin law, most fraudulent crimes involve theft of property. Typically, the property stolen is tangible, such as real property, a car, or money. When a person is tricked into changing the title or possession of the property, then a crime - theft by fraud - may have occurred. As well, an attempt to commit a fraudulent act may also be a crime.

Crimes involving criminal fraud are usually committed without violence, so they are often categorized as a white collar crimes. A fraud crime can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor, depending upon the value of the property involved in the fraud. Charges can be brought under a Wisconsin statute for an offense that violates state law, under federal statute for an offense that violates federal law, or both if both state and federal law prohibit the act.

Intent To Defraud

In order for the state to prove a criminal fraud crime, the state must prove that the defendant had the requisite mens rea - a Latin term meaning the criminal and mental intent and desire - to commit a fraud. It must have been the actual and purposefully intent of the defendant to induce the victim into some act that the victim would not assumedly have committed otherwise, or at least not for the benefit of the defendant.

Wisconsin Property Crimes

Wisconsin Statute Chapter 943: Crimes Against Property is a Wisconsin statute defining many theft crimes, including crimes involving fraud. Whether a crime is committed fraudulently depends upon the facts of the case. This website does not nor does it intend to provide you with legal advice; every case is different, and to truly understand how the law affects your case, please call the attorneys at Van Wagner & Wood right away.


Theft is the intentional taking and carrying away, the use of, the transfer of, the concealment of, or the retained possession of another person's moveable property without consent and with intent to permanent deprive the owner of that property. (Wis. Stat. 943.20(1)(a)).

A theft crime usually cannot occur if the taking of property was accidental, but other factors may support another crime. [See Theft, Larceny, Embezzlement, False Pretenses or False Misrepresentation].

Theft From A Financial Institute

Theft from a financial institution is subject to the same penalties as theft by fraud.

Penalties For Theft By Fraud

Value of Property

Penalty Classification

Less than $2,500 Class A misdemeanor
More than $2,500 but less than $5,000 Class I felony
More than $5,000 bus less than $10,0000 Class H felony
More than $10,000 Class G felony

Unless Property Classification Is:


Domestic animal Class H felony
Property from abandoned building Class H felony
Looting Class H felony
Firearms Class H felony
Property owner is a person at risk Class H felony

Theft by Fraud on Hotel, Restaurant, Recreational Attraction, Taxicab Operator, Gas Station

Under Wisconsin Statute 943.21, a person obtains accommodations, services or goods and then intentionally absconds without paying for it, shown by refusal of payment when due, unpaid bank check (insufficient funds, bank account closed, etc.) or providing false information is guilty of a crime as indicated in the chart below.

Value of Accommodation, Service or Goods

Penalty Classification

Less than $2,500 Class A misdemeanor
More than $2,500 but less than $5,000 Class I felony

Unless Gasoline

Penalty Classification

Gasoline Class D forfeiture

Extortion, Loan Sharking, Blackmail

Extortion is blackmail. The legal definition of extortion is the use or threat of force or harm to a person to compel them to pay money to the extortionist. The harm threatened can be to reputation, to the victim or a member of the victim's family. [See Robbery]


Under Wisconsin statute 943.28, loan sharking or extortion is a Class F felony.

Defamation and Fraud

If instead of threat of force, a threat of defamation is used to blackmail a person into transferring property, the crime is a Class I felony. Defamation is the communication of derogatory information, whether true or false, to at least one other person. For example, stating an opinion about the American Idol would not be defamatory, but making any statement to at least one other person accusing the American Idol of having caused or committing a crime would be fraudulent defamation if it intended to cause him to do some act against his will, convert property, or refrain from converting property.

If the communication to at least one other person maliciously threatens to accuse or accuses another of any crime or offense, or threatens or commits any injury to the person, property, business, profession, calling or trade, or the profits and income of any business, profession, calling or trade of another,with intent to extort money or any pecuniary advantage whatever, or with the intent to compel the person so threatened to do any act against the person's will or omit to do any lawful act, the crime is a Class H felony.

Fraudulent Writings

Under Wisconsin Statute 943.83, any person who with intent to injure or defraud causes a falsification of any record, account or other document, or by means of deceit obtains a signature to a writing which is the subject of forgery, or makes a false written statement with knowledge that it is false and with intent that it shall ultimately appear to have been signed under oath is guilty of a Class H felony.

Fraudulent Data Alteration

Under Wisconsin Statute 943.392, any person who with intent to injure or defraud manipulates or changes any data on a record, account or other document is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

If a person destroys or mutilates corporate books of account or records, or completely erases, obliterates or destroys any writing which is the subject of forgery with the intent to defraud is guilty of a Class H felony.

Fraudulent Insurance and Employee Benefit claims

Under Wisconsin Statute 943.40, if any person presents or causes to be presented a false or fraudulent claim, or any proof in support of such claim, to be paid under any insurance, or prepares, makes or subscribes to a false or fraudulent account knowing such claims or subscriptions to be false or fraudulent and the claim or subscription is equal to or less than $2,500, then the person is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, otherwise a Class I felony if the claim exceeds $2,500.

Telecommunication Services - Theft by Fraud

If a person fraudulently charges telecommunication services to another person's account or credit card, it is a violated subject to a Class C forfeiture on a first offense and a Class B misdemeanor on a second offense. If the offense is for personal or commercial financial gain, it is subject to a Class A misdemeanor, and a second offense is subject to a Class I felony.

Fraud Against A Financial Institute

Under Wisconsin Statute 943.83, if a person obtains money, funds, credits, assets, securities, or other property owned by or under the custody or control of a financial institution by means of false pretenses, representations, or promises, or by use of any fraudulent device, scheme, artifice, or monetary instrument, then they are subject to penalties as provided for a Class A misdemeanor if the value does not exceed $500, a Class I felony if it is a second offense, a Class H felony if the value exceed $500 but is less than $10,000, a class G felony if the value exceeds $10,000 but does not exceed $100,000, and a Class E felony if the value exceeds $100,000.

Loan Fraud

Under Wisconsin Statute 943.83, if a person with intent to defraud a financial institution knowingly overvalues or makes a false statement concerning any land, security, or other property for the purpose of influencing the financial institution to take or defer any action in connection with a loan or loan application, then they may be penalized as provided for a Class A misdemeanor if the value does not exceed $500, a Class I felony if it is a second offense, a Class H felony if the value exceed $500 but is less than $10,000, a class G felony if the value exceeds $10,000 but does not exceed $100,000, and a Class E felony if the value exceeds $100,000.

Mail Fraud

Under Wisconsin Statute 943.89, any person who furthers the commission of a financial crime or sells, disposes of, loans, exchanges, alters, gives away, distributes, supplies, furnishes, or procures for an unlawful purpose any counterfeit currency, obligation, or security and deposits or causes any matter to be deposited with a commercial carrier or in a US post office or authorized depository for US mail is subject to Class H felony charges.

Wire Fraud Against A Financial Institution

Under Wisconsin Statute 943.90, any person who transmits or causes to be transmitted electrically, electromagnetically, or by light any signal, writing, image, sound, or data for the purpose of committing a financial crime is subject to penalties of a Class H felony.

Criminal Defense Attorneys

When you are seeking criminal defense help, it helps to know that because of the past success of the attorneys at Van Wagner & Wood, they may be able to obtain a very favorable outcome for you, even when everything about the situation seems bleak and hopeless. By placing your case in their competent hands, you can step back and leave the hard work to them. Although there are no guarantees, at least you will know that you have the good, solid, competent, experienced, well-regarded and highly respected help of Van Wagner & Wood.

Free Initial First Impression Analysis

If you are under investigation by a Wisconsin state or federal authority, if you have been accused of a crime or arrested and charged with a statutory or federal crime, or if you have already been convicted of a crime but believe your conviction or sentence was wrong, please call ( or ) or e-mail the attorneys at Van Wagner & Wood. The criminal defense attorneys at Van Wagner & Wood will give you a brief but professional free "first-impression" analysis of your case and your situation, which will allow you to take an important first step in defending the case against you.