Colorado Revised Statutes § 6-1-105 makes it a crime for a person or entity to engage in deceptive sales or business practices. This category includes
- false advertising,
- making false statements to generate business, or
- using fraudulent financing.
Deceptive business practices could result in fraud or theft charges as well as civil damages.
Deceptive business practices could be charged as a
In this article, our Denver Colorado criminal defense lawyers will address:
- 1. What are deceptive trade practices under CRS 6-1-105?
- 2. What are the penalties for deceptive trade?
- 3. What are the penalties for violating the Colorado Consumer Protection Act (CCPA)?
- 4. What is the civil liability for deceptive business practices?
- 5. Related Offenses
1. What are deceptive trade practices under CRS 6-1-105?
In Colorado, deceptive trade practices include fraud or misrepresentation in business dealings. Ten examples of deceptive acts and unfair trade practices are:
- Misleading advertising to the general public
- Lenders making bad faith claims about financing to potential homeowners or motor vehicle buyers
- False statements about a competitor’s product or practices
- False information about a good’s source or certification
- Misrepresenting a product’s ingredients
- False representations about whether the defendant’s goods have a warranty
- Not disclosing material information about a good or service
- Misrepresenting the quality or value of a product or service
- “Bait and switch” advertising to potential consumers
- Use of fake testimonials in ads and commercials1
In sum, deceptive sales practices could involve everything from small exaggerations to help sell a product to a complex multi-million dollar pyramid scheme.
2. What are the penalties for deceptive trade?
Colorado enforcement actions for deceptive business practices may depend on:
- the value of the property,
- the extent of the fraud,
- the specific victims involved,
- the number of consumers involved,
- the defendant’s criminal history,
- whether there was a significant public impact,
- the disparity of bargaining power between the defendant and victims, and/or
- the type of fraud involved.
In some cases, deceptive sales and business practices can be charged under Colorado’s theft statute. Theft (CRS 18-4-401) can be charged as a petty offense, misdemeanor or felony, depending on the value of theft involved. Theft or fraud involving less than $300 is a petty offense. Theft or fraud involving $300 to less than $2,000 is a misdemeanor. Theft or fraud of $2,000 or more is a felony.
|Value of Deceptive Business Fraud||Class of Criminal Offense||Penalties|
|$2,000 or more but less than $5,000||Class 6 Felony||12 to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $100,000|
|$5,000 or more but less than $20,000||Class 5 Felony||1 to 3 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000|
|$20,000 or more but less than $100,000||Class 4 Felony||2 to 6 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000|
|$100,000 or more but less than $1 million||Class 3 Felony||4 to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $750,000|
|$1 million or more||Class 2 Felony||8 to 24 years in prison and a fine of up to $1,000,000|
In addition to prison, there is also a mandatory parole period for felony theft offenses. Mandatory parole ranges from 1 to 5 years for felony theft. If an individual commits multiple fraud or theft offenses within a period of 6 months, the value of the thefts can be combined and charged as a single offense.2
If the victim of deceptive sales or business practices is considered an “at-risk” individual under Colorado law, the defendant may face sentencing enhancement. At-risk individuals include people with a disability and elders who are 70 or older. Deceptive sales fraud of $500 or more from an at-risk victim is a class 3 felony, with penalties including up to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $750,000.3
3. What are the penalties for violating the Colorado Consumer Protection Act (CCPA)?
Under the CCPA, a conviction for promoting a pyramid promotional scheme is a class 1 misdemeanor.4 A pyramid scheme is a fraudulent investment scheme where people are induced to giving money with a promise that they will make more money. However, the scheme is only funded by increasing the number of investors, where no products are sold and no investments are made. The penalties for promoting a pyramid scheme include up to 364 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
4. What is the civil liability for deceptive business practices?
In addition to criminal charges filed by the district attorney or attorney general, deceptive business practices can expose an individual to civil liability. The use of deceptive advertising or other deceptive trade practices may be a violation of the CCPA, which provides for civil penalties.
Victims of consumer fraud may also be able to file a civil action to seek the amount of actual damages, triple the amount of damages if the deception was intentional (“treble damages”), as well as the cost of reasonable attorney’s fees.5
5. Related Offenses
5.1 Computer Crimes
In Colorado, it is a criminal offense under CRS 18-5.5-102 to use a computer for the purpose of devising or executing any scheme to defraud. Accessing a computer or computer system to commit theft may be charged as a petty offense, misdemeanor or felony, depending on the damage or value of the theft. Penalties for computer crime as a class 3 felony include 4 to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $750,000.
5.2 Real Estate Fraud
In Colorado, real estate fraud involves engaging in wrongful acts using the property for financial gain. Real estate fraud includes mortgage fraud, credit skimming, foreclosure fraud, credit fraud, deed forgery, and other forms of property fraud. Real estate fraud charges in Colorado may be charged as a petty offense, misdemeanor or felony offense, depending on the value of the fraud.
Call our law firm for help and legal advice…
If you have been accused of deceptive sales or fraud related to a business transaction, please contact us at Colorado Legal Defense Group. We have law offices in Denver, Colorado Springs, and Greeley. Disclaimer: Results cannot be guaranteed.
- Colorado Attorney General’s Office
- Colorado General Assembly
- Federal Trade Commission
- FBI – Telemarketing Fraud
- Colorado Consumer Protection Act (CCPA): CRS 6-1-105 – The language of the statute reads as follows:
(1) A person engages in a deceptive trade practice when, in the course of the person’s business, vocation, or occupation, the person:(a) Knowingly passes off goods, services, or property as those of another;(b) Knowingly makes a false representation as to the source, sponsorship, approval, or certification of goods, services, or property;(c) Knowingly makes a false representation as to affiliation, connection, or association with or certification by another;
(d) Uses deceptive representations or designations of geographic origin in connection with goods or services;
(e) Knowingly makes a false representation as to the characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits, alterations, or quantities of goods, food, services, or property or a false representation as to the sponsorship, approval, status, affiliation, or connection of a person therewith;
(f) Represents that goods are original or new if he knows or should know that they are deteriorated, altered, reconditioned, reclaimed, used, or secondhand;
(g) Represents that goods, food, services, or property are of a particular standard, quality, or grade, or that goods are of a particular style or model, if he knows or should know that they are of another;
(h) Disparages the goods, services, property, or business of another by false or misleading representation of fact;
(i) Advertises goods, services, or property with intent not to sell them as advertised;
(j) Advertises goods or services with intent not to supply reasonably expectable public demand, unless the advertisement discloses a limitation of quantity;
(k) Advertises under the guise of obtaining sales personnel when in fact the purpose is to first sell a product or service to the sales personnel applicant;
(l) Makes false or misleading statements of fact concerning the price of goods, services, or property or the reasons for, existence of, or amounts of price reductions;
(m) Fails to deliver to the customer at the time of an installment sale of goods or services a written order, contract, or receipt setting forth the name and address of the seller, the name and address of the organization which he represents, and all of the terms and conditions of the sale, including a description of the goods or services, stated in readable, clear, and unambiguous language;
(n) Employs “bait and switch” advertising, which is advertising accompanied by an effort to sell goods, services, or property other than those advertised or on terms other than those advertised and which is also accompanied by one or more of the following practices:
(I) Refusal to show the goods or property advertised or to offer the services advertised;
(II) Disparagement in any respect of the advertised goods, property, or services or the terms of sale;
(III) Requiring tie-in sales or other undisclosed conditions to be met prior to selling the advertised goods, property, or services;
(IV) Refusal to take orders for the goods, property, or services advertised for delivery within a reasonable time;
(V) Showing or demonstrating defective goods, property, or services which are unusable or impractical for the purposes set forth in the advertisement;
(VI) Accepting a deposit for the goods, property, or services and subsequently switching the purchase order to higher-priced goods, property, or services; or
(VII) Failure to make deliveries of the goods, property, or services within a reasonable time or to make a refund therefor;
(o) Knowingly fails to identify flood-damaged or water-damaged goods as to such damages;
(p) Solicits door-to-door as a seller, unless the seller, within thirty seconds after beginning the conversation, identifies himself or herself, whom he or she represents, and the purpose of the call;
(p.3) to (p.7) Repealed.
(q) Contrives, prepares, sets up, operates, publicizes by means of advertisements, or promotes any pyramid promotional scheme;
(r) Advertises or otherwise represents that goods or services are guaranteed without clearly and conspicuously disclosing the nature and extent of the guarantee, any material conditions or limitations in the guarantee which are imposed by the guarantor, the manner in which the guarantor will perform, and the identity of such guarantor. Any representation that goods or services are “guaranteed for life” or have a “lifetime guarantee” shall contain, in addition to the other requirements of this paragraph (r), a conspicuous disclosure of the meaning of “life” or “lifetime” as used in such representation (whether that of the purchaser, the goods or services, or otherwise). Guarantees shall not be used which under normal conditions could not be practically fulfilled or which are for such a period of time or are otherwise of such a nature as to have the capacity and tendency of misleading purchasers or prospective purchasers into believing that the goods or services so guaranteed have a greater degree of serviceability, durability, or performance capability in actual use than is true in fact. The provisions of this paragraph (r) apply not only to guarantees but also to warranties, to disclaimer of warranties, to purported guarantees and warranties, and to any promise or representation in the nature of a guarantee or warranty; however, such provisions do not apply to any reference to a guarantee in a slogan or advertisement so long as there is no guarantee or warranty of specific merchandise or other property.
(s) and (t) Repealed.
(u) Fails to disclose material information concerning goods, services, or property which information was known at the time of an advertisement or sale if such failure to disclose such information was intended to induce the consumer to enter into a transaction;
(v) Disburses funds in connection with a real estate transaction in violation of section 38-35-125 (2), C.R.S.;
(x) Violates the provisions of sections 6-1-203 to 6-1-205 or of part 7 of this article;
(y) Fails, in connection with any solicitation, oral or written, to clearly and prominently disclose immediately adjacent to or after the description of any item or prize to be received by any person the actual retail value of each item or prize to be awarded. For the purposes of this paragraph (y), the actual retail value is the price at which substantial sales of the item were made in the person’s trade area or in the trade area in which the item or prize is to be received within the last ninety days or, if no substantial sales were made, the actual cost of the item or prize to the person on whose behalf any contest or promotion is conducted; except that, whenever the actual cost of the item to the provider is less than fifteen dollars per item, a disclosure that “actual cost to the provider is less than fifteen dollars” may be made in lieu of disclosure of actual cost. The provisions of this paragraph (y) shall not apply to a promotion which is soliciting the sale of a newspaper, magazine, or periodical of general circulation, or to a promotion soliciting the sale of books, records, audio tapes, compact discs, or videos when the promoter allows the purchaser to review the merchandise without obligation for at least seven days and provides a full refund within thirty days after the receipt of the returned merchandise or when a membership club operation is in conformity with rules and regulations of the federal trade commission contained in 16 CFR 425.
(z) Refuses or fails to obtain all governmental licenses or permits required to perform the services or to sell the goods, food, services, or property as agreed to or contracted for with a consumer;
(aa) Fails, in connection with the issuing, making, providing, selling, or offering to sell of a motor vehicle service contract, to comply with the provisions of article 11 of title 42, C.R.S.;
(cc) Engages in any commercial telephone solicitation which constitutes an unlawful telemarketing practice as defined in section 6-1-304;
(ee) Intentionally violates any provision of article 10 of title 5, C.R.S.;
(ee.5) to (ff) Repealed.
(gg) Fails to disclose or misrepresents to another person, a secured creditor, or an assignee by whom such person is retained to repossess personal property whether such person is bonded in accordance with section 4-9-629, C.R.S., or fails to file such bond with the attorney general;
(hh) Violates any provision of article 16 of this title;
(jj) Represents to any person that such person has won or is eligible to win any award, prize, or thing of value as the result of a contest, promotion, sweepstakes, or drawing, or that such person will receive or is eligible to receive free goods, services, or property, unless, at the time of the representation, the person has the present ability to supply such award, prize, or thing of value;
(kk) Violates any provision of article 6 of this title;
(ll) Knowingly makes a false representation as to the results of a radon test or the need for radon mitigation;
(mm) Violates section 35-27-113 (3) (e), (3) (f), or (3) (i), C.R.S.;
(oo) Fails to comply with the provisions of section 35-80-108 (1) (a), (1) (b), or (2) (f), C.R.S.;
(pp) Violates article 9 of title 42, C.R.S.;
(rr) Violates the provisions of part 8 of this article;
(ss) Violates any provision of part 33 of article 32 of title 24, C.R.S., that applies to the installation of manufactured homes;
(tt) Violates any provision of part 9 of this article;
(uu) Violates section 38-40-105, C.R.S.;
(vv) Violates section 12-55-110.3, C.R.S.;
(ww) Violates any provision of section 6-1-702;
(xx) Violates any provision of part 11 of this article;
(zz) Violates any provision of section 6-1-717;
(aaa) Violates any provision of section 12-61-904.5, C.R.S.;
(bbb) Violates any provision of section 12-61-905.5, C.R.S.;
(ccc) Violates the provisions of section 6-1-722;
(ddd) Violates section 6-1-724;
(eee) Violates section 6-1-701;
(fff) Violates section 6-1-723;
(ggg) Violates section 6-1-725;
(hhh) Knowingly represents that hemp, hemp oil, or any derivative of a hemp plant constitutes retail marijuana or medical marijuana unless it fully satisfies the definition of such products pursuant to section 12-43.4-103 (15), C.R.S., or section 12-43.3-104 (7), C.R.S.;
(iii) Knowingly enters into, or attempts to enforce, an agreement regarding the recovery of an overbid on foreclosed property if the agreement concerns the recovery of funds in the possession of:
(I) A public trustee prior to transfer of the funds to the state treasurer under section 38-38-111, C.R.S.; or
(II) The state treasurer and does not meet the requirements for such an agreement as specified in section 38-13-128.5, C.R.S.;
(jjj) Violates section 6-1-726.
(2) Evidence that a person has engaged in a deceptive trade practice shall be prima facie evidence of intent to injure competitors and to destroy or substantially lessen competition.
(3) The deceptive trade practices listed in this section are in addition to and do not limit the types of unfair trade practices actionable at common law or under other statutes of this state.
- Colorado Revised Statute 18-4-401(4). Prior to March 1, 2022, theft valued at less than $50 was a petty offense. SB21-271.
- CRS 18-6.5-102
- CCPA 6-1-114
- CCPA 6-1-112