Financial Fraud /
Dallas White Collar Criminal Defense Lawyer

"Fraud cases, whether they are state fraud charges or federal mail, wire, or bank fraud charges, involve accusations that the defendant tried to cheat someone by using deception." Dallas White Collar Criminal Defense Lawyer, John Helms

Mail Fraud, Wire Fraud, and Bank Fraud

Fraud means tricking a person or business to get money or property. Federal laws make it illegal to use the mail or interstate wires to commit fraud.

“Mail” and “interstate wires” are very broad. Using the mail includes sending anything through the US mail as part of the fraud. Many people do not realize that it also includes the use of private interstate carriers like UPS or Fed Ex.

Interstate wires include interstate cell or conventional phone calls and text messages as well as interstate transmission of electronic data, such as electronic mail.

The use of the mail or interstate wires does not have to be an important part of the fraud. There is also no lower limit on the amount of money involved, although most US Attorney’s Offices will not get involved in a fraud case unless it is big enough to justify their involvement, as opposed to the case being handled by state prosecutors.

Bank fraud is an attempt to defraud an FDIC-insured bank or banking institution. Bank fraud often involves the use of false statements in loan documents.

Dallas White Collar Criminal Defense Lawyer John Helms  prosecuted mail, wire, and bank fraud cases as a federal prosecutor, and I have defended many of these cases as a criminal defense lawyer. I have also represented numerous plaintiffs and defendants in civil fraud cases throughout my career. Fraud cases almost always require an attention to detail and documents and the ability to explain complicated evidence to juries persuasively and in a way they can understand. I have developed those skills in fraud cases throughout my career.

FAQs on white collar crimes, drug crimes  and other federal crimes 


Q: What is White Collar Crime?

A: White collar crime is a term used to describe non-violent crimes committed by business and government professionals for financial gain. Examples of white-collar crime include fraud, bribery, embezzlement, insider trading, money laundering, cybercrime, antitrust violations, counterfeiting, intellectual property theft, and credit card fraud. Financial institutions, banks and credit unions who are unsuspecting become the target of criminal organizations and are usually used as the vehicle to perpetrate the fraud. 


Q: What is a Federal Crime?

A: Federal crimes are crimes that are defined by federal laws and prosecuted by the United States government. Examples of federal crimes include tax evasion, counterfeiting, mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, manufacturing and delivering a federal controlled substance which includes; opioids, stimulants, depressants, hallucinogens, and anabolic steroids. An individual stopped by law enforcement transporting these substances without a valid medical prescription could be arrested and would be facing a criminal indictment under the drug trafficking statute.


Q: What is Drug trafficking?

A: Drug trafficking is the illegal sale, transport, and distribution of controlled substances. Federal law, Title 21, Section 841 states that it is unlawful for anyone to knowingly or intentionally “manufacture, distribute, or dispense, possess with intent to manufacture, distribute a controlled substance or any drugs that take the form of illicit, schedule drugs, like cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines as well as schedule IV prescription drugs that can be abused by consumers, like Xanax, Oxycodone, Fentanyl, Vicodin and Adderall to name a few. It is a federal crime and can result in severe penalties, including prison time. Individuals facing a federal drug crime indictment should seek the advice of a federal drug crime lawyer.


Q: What is Money Wire Fraud?

A: Wire fraud is a federal crime that involves the use of electronic telecommunications, such as a telephone, radio, television, or the internet, to commit fraud. It can involve the use of false or misleading statements to obtain money or property from another person. When a scheme has been devised by someone knowingly or intentionally misrepresenting their intentions and posing as a trusted source, usually a friend, relative, company, or family member, requesting an immediate wire transfer of funds. The schemer will usually impress upon the urgency of the need for the funds to be sent immediately, often claiming that an emergency has occurred in order to emotionally manipulate the victims.


Q: What is Insider Trading?

A: Insider trading can be perpetrated by executives, directors, and employees of corporations who have benefited from non-public information to make securities trades. It can also be friends, family and associates who have received tips about non-public information from company employees of any level, helping them in the buying and trading of corporate stock. Insider trading typically falls into two categories. 1. Buying and selling of securities before and prior to the announcement of any favorable news such as a great quarter earnings report, a merger that improves the equity of the company, a new hiring of a CEO or acquisition of a key person. 2. Any buying or selling prior to the announcement of a negative forecast, firing of a key person, drop in quarterly revenue. It is a federal crime to engage in this illegal practice of using non-public information to make financial decisions about the buying and selling of publicly traded stocks, resulting in severe penalties and possible jail time.


Q: What is Money Laundering?

A: Money laundering is the process of disguising the source of illegally obtained money that produced them. By transforming the monetary proceeds generated from an illegal activity and using the proceeds of, for example an illegal drug manufacturing and delivering enterprise where proceeds are used to fund and pay for expenses in a legitimate business. Disguising the revenue so it appears to be generated from an apparently legal source. The primary forms of money laundering flow through into 3 stages; the placement, the layering and or integration. The threshold for raising suspicion from a law enforcement point of view is any amount over $10,00.00 in cash deposited into or withdrawn or from an American financial institution. Any real estate purchase in cash of $300,000.00 or more can be a reason for review. Money laundering is a federal crime and can result in severe penalties, fines and prison time. 


Q: What is Cybercrime.?

A: Cybercrime is any criminal activity against people, against property and against the government that involves either the targeting of a computer or the use of computers, networks, or the internet. Most cybercrime is an illegal activity to make money by individuals or groups of cybercriminals. It can also involve activity aimed at damaging computer networks or computers themselves for reasons of bringing down or disrupting important urban infrastructure systems. These crimes can often result in millions of dollars of economic damages in repairing down systems and bringing them back online. Examples of cybercrime, crimes like phishing, credit card frauds, bank robbery, illegal downloading, industrial espionage, child pornography, kidnapping children via chat rooms, scams, cyber terrorism, creation and/or distribution of viruses, spam. Fraud originated by manipulating computers and computer networks can also include identity theft, hacking, malware, software piracy, smishing, vishing and cyberstalking.


Q: What is Phishing, Smishing and Vishing?

A: Phishing is a cybercrime carried out through e-mail, smishing is carried out by text and vishing is a technique carried out by telephone calling, all of these types of cybercrime in which criminals use deceptive emails or websites even telephone operators calling and misrepresenting or impersonating a legitimate business group to trick victims into providing personal information, such as passwords or credit card numbers. Even social media can be used with the intent of deceiving the victim into providing personal information by persuading the unsuspecting target to click on a link that will install malware on their device. You may have also heard the term spear-phishing or whaling. Spear phishing is targeted phishing.


Q: Who is Attorney John Helms

A: John Helms is a criminal defense attorney based in Dallas, Texas. He specializes in white collar crime, federal crime, and drug trafficking cases. He has represented clients in state and federal courts throughout the United States. John is an experienced Dallas white collar defense lawyer who understands the criminal justice system and what’s required to prepare a state or federal criminal defense for anyone facing serious criminal charges in Dallas and the surrounding counties like Denton, Collin, Tarrant, Hunt, Ellis, Johnson, Kaufman, Hopkins and Rockwall Counties. Having the knowledge of a former assistant United States attorney in the Northern District of Texas, as a federal prosecutor, he has helped defendants of crimes in Texas to be represented by an experienced Dallas criminal defense lawyer. John Helms has the knowledge to select the most effective criminal defense approach. If you’re facing a criminal charge in Texas understanding how a district attorney or federal prosecutor thinks will help in choosing the most coherent criminal defense to proceed with.


  1. Example of a Wire Fraud and  White Collar Crime 

Often personal account information is gained through sophisticated phishing schemes to have victims transfer deposits from valid personal accounts to compromised fraudulent personal accounts, with the funds disappearing within moments of the transfer having been executed. These crimes, although primarily void of violence, can be debilitating on individuals, while impacting the social fabric within communities. 

Often unsuspecting victims become part of criminal investigations requiring the skill of a federal criminal defense white collar attorney. These schemes to misappropriate funds and embezzlement are two common federal fraud crimes.


  1. Example of a Federal and Drug Crime

A common reason for an arrest in a federal crime is when someone knowingly or intentionally carries a controlled substance across an international border either by air, land or sea a controlled substance, an illegal drug, stimulant or pain killer that is regulated and forbidden for transport by federal or state law. Sophisticated traffickers transporting contraband will conceal in a form that has been designed to represent an actual vehicle characteristic. These substances forbidden or restricted can only be legally transported by being registered with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and requires having the proper permits and credentials, otherwise an individual or organization can be arrested and face a federal indictment for this federal crime.


  1. Example of an Insider Trading Crime

If you are part of the marketing group and an employee of a fortune 50 publicly traded company, tasked with writing and disseminating news, you have either direct or indirect knowledge of an important press release that is announcing an impressive 4th quarter revenue forecast.

The crime can occur in two ways: 

1) The company employee decides to buy more publicly traded security shares of his company just before the announcement is syndicated, benefiting from any increase in share value after the announcement has been publicly released. 

2) The company employee tips an associate, friend,relative or family member just before the announcement is publicly released to purchase company traded stocks which helps that individual benefit from any favorable company news information affecting a shareholder's increased value.




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If you have not been arrested or charged with a crime, but the police have told you that they would like to talk to you, what do you do? Do not say a thing; let them know you want to use your right to get a lawyer. And do it ASAP.​

Whenever you have any dealings with the police, you should be represented by a lawyer. If they are looking for you, if they want to talk to you, if they want to arrest you, or if someone has contacted law enforcement and accused you of a crime, you need a lawyer.

Even if you plan on pleading guilty, it is critical that you hire a criminal defense lawyer to protect your rights. Representing yourself is never a good idea. Even if you plead guilty, you can expect that prosecutors will try to take advantage of your inexperience by only agreeing to a plea deal that is less favorable than they would with a lawyer. Plus, an attorney may be able to spot problems with the government’s case that you would not recognize, like evidence that should be suppressed. Problems like that might result in dismissal of the charges altogether, but just being able to spot them can help negotiate a better deal with a prosecutor. An attorney, especially a former prosecutor like me, can help you protect your rights, evaluate your options, and negotiate with the prosecutors for the most favorable outcome.

Depending on your case, based on the advice of your attorney, it may be in your best interest to go to trial. When charges are filed against you, your lawyer will evaluate the case to determine if there is a legal basis to get the case dismissed. If there is not, and if either the government cannot prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt, or if a satisfactory plea bargain cannot be worked out before trial, then your best option will, in all likelihood, be going to trial. If the case cannot be dismissed, it is ultimately your decision whether you want to take a plea bargain or go to trial. Your lawyer cannot make that decision for you or force you to decide one way or the other. Your lawyer will advise you on what is in your best interests, but no one can take away your right to decide.
Any offer or plea bargain should be evaluated carefully with the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer to ensure that your rights have been protected and that you understand the consequences of the plea. A good criminal defense lawyer will evaluate and discuss with you your other options, including trying to have the case dismissed, your chances if you go to trial, and whether a better deal can be negotiated. This kind of analysis requires experience and knowledge of the law.
In state court cases in Texas, a magistrate judge sets bail shortly after you are arrested. They do this based on the crime and your criminal history. You can hire a bail bond company to help you post bail. They usually require you to give them 10% of the bond amount (which you get back at the end of the case if you comply with all conditions of bond), plus a fee that they keep. Depending on the amount of the bail and your financial condition, they may also require putting up property to make sure they can get their money back if you do not comply with your bail conditions. If you know you are going to be arrested, I strongly recommend contacting a bail bond company in advance. They can make sure that they are ready to post the bond for you as soon as it is set by a magistrate judge. This helps you get out as soon as possible. There are bail bond companies that I trust, and if you hire me, I will help you through that process. Federal court is very different. After your arrest, you have an initial appearance in front of a federal magistrate judge. The prosecutor will tell the magistrate judge whether the government is asking for you to be held in custody during trial. If the government is asking for that, you have the right to have a hearing in court in which the magistrate judge decides whether or not you will be held in custody before trial. That hearing is usually a few days after your initial appearance. Bail is not common in federal court. You will usually be held in custody or released, but if you are released, there may be conditions of your release like electronic monitoring or house arrest.
Absolutely. If you are a suspect or being investigated for potential criminal activity, it is always in your best interest to have a lawyer present. This is true regardless of where the questioning takes place. If the authorities want to question you while you are in custody, you should ask to have a lawyer present during any questioning and refuse to answer questions until your lawyer is with you.

In criminal cases, we usually charge a flat rate for everything but trial and a trial fee that is only owed if the case goes to trial. A flat fee means that, no matter how much work the lawyer has to do, you know up front what the fee is going to be. We base our fees on our estimate of the amount of time and work that will be required to defend the case. We are not a factory type of operation, so we generally do not have “grocery store” pricing, in which a given crime costs a set amount regardless of the facts. Each case is different, and we try to tailor our fees to your individual case. That means that we want to find out about your case and that we try to set our fees based on how much work we think your case will take and how complicated it will be.

If you are under investigation, but you have not been charged, we may offer to represent you during the investigation based on an hourly rate with a cost deposit that we bill against. This can benefit you because it can be difficult to predict how much work it will take to represent someone during an investigation, and an hourly rate means that you will only pay for the work done.

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