What makes an action fraudulent?

You probably know that fraud is to do with allegedly conning someone else out of money. Yet, fraud, like any crime, has a specific legal definition.

People often make accusations using legal terms that they do not fully understand. By learning how the law defines fraud, you can assess how best to defend yourself against the charge.

Fraud requires 5 things to occur

For a court to convict you of fraud, the prosecution needs to prove that five things occurred:

  • You provided a false statement as a material fact: Did you give wrong information to someone, saying it was true? Or did you give them some data which you told them to use to draw their own conclusions?
  • You knew what you were saying was not true: Were you aware the information was wrong before you gave it to the person accusing you of defrauding them? Or did you believe it was accurate?
  • You intended to deceive the person or institution: Did you set out with ill intentions? Or were you trying to help? Did you stand to profit from the misinformation?
  • The victim relied on your false statement: Can the person prove they made a decision based on the information you gave them? Or did they have access to other information which they also used? If they only used your data, should they have made more effort to check other sources?
  • They suffered damages due to relying on your false statement: What has happened that is allegedly your fault? Is your accuser claiming they lost money they had or saying they lost a chance to make money?

Fraud is a serious charge, and your case may end up in a federal court. You will require someone with experience in the federal justice system to examine all the defense options available to maximize your chances of avoiding the heavy sentences this crime can carry.