fraud

fraud

[frawd]
fraud, in law, willful misrepresentation intended to deprive another of some right. The offense, generally only a tort, may also constitute the crime of false pretenses. Frauds are either actual or constructive. An actual fraud requires that the act be motivated by the desire to deceive another to his harm, while a constructive fraud is a presumption of overreaching conduct that arises when a profit is made from a relation of trust (see fiduciary). The courts have found it undesirable to make a rigid definition of the type of misrepresentation that amounts to actual fraud and have preferred to consider individually the factors in each case. The misrepresentation may be a positive lie, a failure to disclose information, or even a statement made in reckless disregard of possible inaccuracy. Actual fraud can never be the result of accident or negligence, because of the requirement that the act be intended to deceive. The question of commission may depend upon the competence and commercial knowledge of the alleged victim. Thus dealings with a minor, a lunatic, a feeble-minded person, a drunkard, or (in former times) a married woman are scrutinized more closely than dealings with an experienced businessman. A lawsuit based upon actual or constructive fraud must specify the fraudulent act, the plaintiff's reliance on it, and the loss suffered. The remedy granted to the plaintiff in most cases is either compensatory (and possibly punitive) damages for the injury or cancellation of the contract or other agreement and the restoration of the parties to their former status. In a few states of the United States both damages and cancellation are available. In certain suits based upon a contract, fraud may be introduced as a defense.

In law, the deliberate misrepresentation of fact for the purpose of depriving someone of a valuable possession or legal right. Any omission or concealment that is injurious to another or that allows a person to take unconscionable advantage of another may constitute criminal fraud. The most common type of fraud is the obtaining of property by giving a check for which there are insufficient funds in the signer's account. Another is the assumption of someone else's or a fictitious identity with the intent to deceive. Also important are mail and wire fraud (fraud committed by use of the postal service or electronic devices, such as telephones or computers). A tort action based on fraud is sometimes referred to as an action of deceit.

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(1795–1814) Scheme to sell land in Georgia. After legislators were bribed to sell Georgia's western land claims around the Yazoo River to four land companies for $500,000, public anger forced a newly elected Georgia legislature to rescind the act (1796) and return the money. Much of the land had meanwhile been resold to third parties, who refused the money and maintained their claim to the property. The state ceded its claim to the U.S. in 1802. In 1810 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the 1796 rescinding law was an unconstitutional infringement on a contract. By 1814 the U.S. government assumed possession of the territory and awarded the claimants over $4 million.

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In the broadest sense, a fraud is a deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual. The specific legal definition varies by legal jurisdiction. Fraud is a crime, and is also a civil law violation. Many hoaxes are fraudulent, although those not made for personal gain are not technically frauds. Defrauding people of money is presumably the most common type of fraud, but there have also been many fraudulent "discoveries" in art, archaeology, and science.

Definition

In criminal law, fraud is the crime or offense of deliberately deceiving another in order to damage them usually, to obtain property or services unjustly. Fraud can be accomplished through the aid of forged objects. In the criminal law of common law jurisdictions it may be called "theft by deception," "larceny by trick," "larceny by fraud and deception" or something similar.

Fraud for profit involves industry professionals. There are generally multiple loan transactions with several financial institutions involved. These frauds include numerous gross misrepresentations including: income is overstated, assets are overstated, collateral is overstated, the length of employment is overstated or fictitious employment is reported, and employment is backstopped by conspirators. The borrower's debts are not fully disclosed, nor is the borrower's credit history, which is often altered. Often, the borrower assumes the identity of another person (straw buyer). The borrower states he intends to use the property for occupancy when he/she intends to use the property for rental income, or is purchasing the property for another party (nominee). Appraisals almost always list the property as owner-occupied. Down payments do not exist or are borrowed and disguised with a fraudulent gift letter. The property value is inflated (faulty appraisal) to increase the sales value to make up for no down payment and to generate cash proceeds in fraud for profit.

Marriage Fraud can take several forms and is the act of entering a marriage for personal gain rather than a genuine desire to enter into a sincere marital relationship. Marriage Fraud is usually associated with obtaining immigration benefits. In the United States, marriage fraud for immigration purposes is punishable under INA §204(c)(1) and the Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments of 1986. Possible criminal penalties include $250,000 and 5 years in prison as well as deportation and a permanent bar against receiving future immigration status. Marriage Fraud can be either unilateral or bilateral Unity and Immigration Policy in the United States In a unilateral marriage fraud, only one party is aware of the fraud and the fraud is against both the immigration service as well as the other party. The innocent party may file a lawsuit and/or annulment of the marriage. In a bilateral fraud, both parties are aware of it and both parties are subject to criminal penalties.

In academia and science, fraud can refer to academic fraud the falsifying of research findings which is a form of scientific misconduct and in common use intellectual fraud signifies falsification of a position taken or implied by an author or speaker, within a book, controversy or debate, or an idea deceptively presented to hide known logical weaknesses. Journalistic fraud implies a similar notion, the falsification of journalistic findings.

Fraud can be committed through many methods, including mail, wire, phone, and the internet (computer crime and internet fraud). The difficulty of checking identity and legitimacy online, the ease with which hackers can divert browsers to dishonest site and steal credit card details, the international dimensions of the web and ease with which users can hide their location, all contribute to making internet fraud the fastest growing area of fraud.

Acts which may constitute criminal fraud include:

Fraud, in addition to being a criminal act, is also a type of civil law violation known as a tort. A tort is a civil wrong for which the law provides a remedy. A civil fraud typically involves the act of intentionally making a false representation of a material fact, with the intent to deceive, which is reasonably relied upon by another person to that person's detriment. A "false representation" can take many forms, such as:

  • A false statement of fact, known to be false at the time it was made;
  • A statement of fact with no reasonable basis to make that statement;
  • A promise of future performance made with an intent, at the time the promise was made, not to perform as promised;
  • A statement of opinion based on a false statement of fact;
  • A statement of opinion that the maker knows to be false; or
  • An expression of opinion that is false, made by one claiming or implying to have special knowledge of the subject matter of the opinion. "Special knowledge" in this case means knowledge or information superior to that possessed by the other party, and to which the other party did not have equal access.

In the UK a report concluded that the total costs of fraud and dealing with fraud in the year 2005-2006 was at least 13.9 Billion GBP.

Notable frauds

See also

References

  • Fred Cohen. Frauds, Spies, and Lies - and How to Defeat Them. ISBN 1-878109-36-7 (2006). ASP Press.
  • Podgor, Ellen S. Criminal Fraud, (1999) Vol, 48, No. 4 American Law Review 1 Review Fraud - Alex Copola
  • The Nature, Extent and Economic Impact of Fraud in the UK. "Feb,2007", http://www.acpo.police.uk/asp/policies/Data/Fraud%20in%20the%20UK.pdf).

External links

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