Deceptive Sales and Business Practices in Colorado

In Colorado, deceptive sales or business practices could lead to criminal charges. Deceptive sales activities could include false advertising, making false statements to generate business, or using fraudulent financing. Deceptive business practices could result in fraud or theft charges. Deceptive business practices could be charged as a misdemeanor or felony offenses, depending on the nature of the violation. In this article, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers will address:

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In Colorado, deceptive sales or business practices could lead to criminal charges. Deceptive sales activities could include false advertising, making false statements to generate business, or using fraudulent financing.

1. What are deceptive sales and business practices?

Deceptive sales and business practices include fraud or misrepresentation in a business dealing. Deceptive sales practices could involve small exaggerations to help sell a product or it could involve a complex multi-million dollar pyramid scheme. Examples include:

  • Misleading advertising
  • False statements
  • Misleading financing
  • False statements about a competitor's product or practices
  • Misrepresenting a product's ingredients
  • Not disclosing information about a good or service
  • Misrepresenting the quality or value of a product or service
  • “Bait and switch” advertising
  • Use of fake testimonials

Deceptive business practices could result in criminal charges for theft. Certain deceptive practices can also be a violation of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act (CCPA).1

2. What are the penalties for deceptive sales?

The penalties for deceptive business practices may depend on the value of property, extent of the fraud, the specific victims involved, the defendant's criminal history, and the type of fraud involved.

Deceptive sales and business practices can be charged under Colorado's theft statute. Under C.R.S. 18-4-401, theft can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the value of theft involved. Theft or fraud involving 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?

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 18 months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

4. Civil liability for deceptive business practices

In addition to criminal charges, 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 Colorado Consumer Protection Act. CCPA violations provide for civil penalties.

“The attorney general or district attorney may bring a civil action on behalf of the state to seek the imposition of civil penalties.”5

Victims of consumer fraud may also be able to file a civil action to seek actual damages, triple the amount of damages if the deception was intentional, as well as the cost of reasonable attorney's fees.

5. Related Offenses

Deceptive business and sales practices may involve other related offenses. Most business transactions involve the use of a computer, including alleged deceptive business transactions. Fraud involving the use of a computer can result in computer crime charges. Deceptive business practices involving the sale of property, mortgages, or loans may constitute real estate fraud.

5.1 Computer Crimes C.R.S. 18-5.5-102

In Colorado, it is a criminal offense 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 misdemeanor or felony, depending on the damage or value of 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 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 misdemeanor or felony offenses, depending on the value of the fraud.

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If you have been accused of deceptive sales or fraud related to a business transaction, please contact us at Colorado Legal Defense Group. Our caring Colorado defense attorneys have many years of experience representing clients who have been charged with theft by deception and fraud offenses. We are among the best Colorado criminal defense attorneys to call. Contact us today for a free consultation by phone or in-person or in our Denver law office.


Legal References

  1. Colorado Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) 6-1-101
  2. C.R.S. 18-4-401(4)
  3. C.R.S. 18-6.5-102
  4. CCPA 6-1-114
  5. CCPA 6-1-112

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