Fraud

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A fake automated teller slot used to commit bank fraud upon bank patrons. NS skimapparaat.jpg
A fake automated teller slot used to commit bank fraud upon bank patrons.

In law, fraud is intentional deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain, or to deprive a victim of a legal right. Fraud can violate civil law (i.e., a fraud victim may sue the fraud perpetrator to avoid the fraud or recover monetary compensation), a criminal law (i.e., a fraud perpetrator may be prosecuted and imprisoned by governmental authorities), or it may cause no loss of money, property or legal right but still be an element of another civil or criminal wrong. [1] The purpose of fraud may be monetary gain or other benefits, for example by obtaining a passport, travel document, or driver's license, or mortgage fraud, where the perpetrator may attempt to qualify for a mortgage by way of false statements. [2]

Contents

A hoax is a distinct concept that involves deliberate deception without the intention of gain or of materially damaging or depriving a victim.

As a civil wrong

In common law jurisdictions, as a civil wrong, fraud is a tort. While the precise definitions and requirements of proof vary among jurisdictions, the requisite elements of fraud as a tort generally are the intentional misrepresentation or concealment of an important fact upon which the victim is meant to rely, and in fact does rely, to the harm of the victim. [3] Proving fraud in a court of law is often said to be difficult.[ citation needed ] That difficulty is found, for instance, in that each and every one of the elements of fraud must be proven, that the elements include proving the states of mind of the perpetrator and the victim, and that some jurisdictions require the victim to prove fraud by clear and convincing evidence.[ citation needed ]

The remedies for fraud may include rescission (i.e., reversal) of a fraudulently obtained agreement or transaction, the recovery of a monetary award to compensate for the harm caused, punitive damages to punish or deter the misconduct, and possibly others.[ citation needed ]

In cases of a fraudulently induced contract, fraud may serve as a defense in a civil action for breach of contract or specific performance of contract.

Fraud may serve as a basis for a court to invoke its equitable jurisdiction.

As a criminal offence

In common law jurisdictions, as a criminal offence, fraud takes many different forms, some general (e.g., theft by false pretense) and some specific to particular categories of victims or misconduct (e.g., bank fraud, insurance fraud, forgery). The elements of fraud as a crime similarly vary. The requisite elements of perhaps the most general form of criminal fraud, theft by false pretense, are the intentional deception of a victim by false representation or pretense with the intent of persuading the victim to part with property and with the victim parting with property in reliance on the representation or pretense and with the perpetrator intending to keep the property from the victim. [4]

By region

North America

Canada

Section 380(1) of the Criminal Code provides the general definition for fraud in Canada:

380. (1) Every one who, by deceit, falsehood or other fraudulent means, whether or not it is a false pretence within the meaning of this Act, defrauds the public or any person, whether ascertained or not, of any property, money or valuable security or any service,

(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to a term of imprisonment not exceeding fourteen years, where the subject-matter of the offence is a testamentary instrument or the value of the subject-matter of the offence exceeds five thousand dollars; or
(b) is guilty
(i) of an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or
(ii) of an offence punishable on summary conviction, where the value of the subject-matter of the offence does not exceed five thousand dollars. [5]

In addition to the penalties outlined above, the court can also issue a prohibition order under s. 380.2 (preventing a person from "seeking, obtaining or continuing any employment, or becoming or being a volunteer in any capacity, that involves having authority over the real property, money or valuable security of another person"). It can also make a restitution order under s. 380.3. [6]

The Canadian courts have held that the offence consists of two distinct elements:

  • A prohibited act of deceit, falsehood or other fraudulent means. In the absence of deceit or falsehood, the courts will look objectively for a "dishonest act"; and
  • The deprivation must be caused by the prohibited act, and deprivation must relate to property, money, valuable security, or any service. [7]

The Supreme Court of Canada has held that deprivation is satisfied on proof of detriment, prejudice or risk of prejudice; it is not essential that there be actual loss. [8] Deprivation of confidential information, in the nature of a trade secret or copyrighted material that has commercial value, has also been held to fall within the scope of the offence. [9]

United States

Criminal fraud

The proof requirements for criminal fraud charges in the United States are essentially the same as the requirements for other crimes: guilt must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Throughout the United States fraud charges can be misdemeanors or felonies depending on the amount of loss involved. High value frauds can also include additional penalties. For example, in California losses of $500,000 or more will result in an extra two, three, or five years in prison in addition to the regular penalty for the fraud. [10]

The U.S. government's 2006 fraud review concluded that fraud is a significantly under-reported crime, and while various agencies and organizations were attempting to tackle the issue, greater co-operation was needed to achieve a real impact in the public sector. [11] The scale of the problem pointed to the need for a small but high-powered body to bring together the numerous counter-fraud initiatives that existed.

Civil fraud

Although elements may vary by jurisdiction and the specific allegations made by a plaintiff who files a lawsuit that alleged fraud, typical elements of a fraud case in the United States are that: [12]

  1. Somebody misrepresents a material fact in order to obtain action or forbearance by another person;
  2. The other person relies upon the misrepresentation; and
  3. The other person suffers injury as a result of the act or forbearance taken in reliance upon the misrepresentation.

To establish a civil claim of fraud, most jurisdictions in the United States require that each element of a fraud claim be pleaded with particularity and be proved by a preponderance of the evidence, [13] meaning that it is more likely than not that the fraud occurred. Some jurisdictions impose a higher evidentiary standard, such as Washington State's requirement that the elements of fraud be proved with clear, cogent, and convincing evidence (very probable evidence), [14] or Pennsylvania's requirement that common law fraud be proved by clear and convincing evidence. [15]

The measure of damages in fraud cases is normally computed using one of two rules: [16]

  1. The "benefit of bargain" rule, which allows for recovery of damages in the amount of the difference between the value of the property had it been as represented and its actual value;
  2. Out-of-pocket loss, which allows for the recovery of damages in the amount of the difference between the value of what was given and the value of what was received.

Special damages may be allowed if shown to have been proximately caused by defendant's fraud and the damage amounts are proved with specificity.

Many jurisdictions permit a plaintiff in a fraud case to seek punitive or exemplary damages. [17]

Pacific Asia

China

Zhang Yingyu's story collection The Book of Swindles (available here; [18] ca. 1617) testifies to rampant commercial fraud, especially involving itinerant businessmen, in late Ming China. [19] The journal Science reported in 2017 that fraud is rife in Chinese academia, resulting in numerous article retractions and harm to China's international prestige. [20] The Economist, CNN, and other media outlets regularly report on incidents of fraud or bad faith in Chinese business and trade practices. [21] [22] [23] Forbes cites cybercrime as a persistent and growing threat to Chinese consumers. [24]

Europe

United Kingdom

In 2016 the estimated value lost through fraud in the UK was £193 billion a year. [25]

In January 2018 the Financial Times reported that the value of UK fraud hit a 15-year high of £2.11bn in 2017, according to a study. The article said that the accountancy firm BDO examined reported fraud cases worth more than £50,000 and found that the total number rose to 577 in 2017, compared with 212 in 2003. The study found that the average amount stolen in each incident rose to £3.66m, up from £1.5m in 2003. [26]

As at November 2017, fraud is the most common criminal offence in the UK according to a study by Crowe Clark Whitehill, Experian and the Centre for Counter Fraud Studies. [27] The study suggests the UK loses over £190 billion per year to fraud. £190 billion is more than 9% of the UK's projected GDP for 2017 ($2,496 (£2,080) billion according to 'Statistics Times[ citation needed ]). The estimate for fraud in the UK figure is more than the entire GDP of countries such as Romania, Qatar and Hungary. [28]

According to another review by the UK anti-fraud charity Fraud Advisory Panel (FAP), business fraud accounted for £144bn, while fraud against individuals was estimated at £9.7bn. The FAP has been particularly critical of the support available from the police to victims of fraud in the UK outside of London. Although victims of fraud are generally referred to the UK's national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre, Action Fraud, the FAP found that there was "little chance" that these crime reports would be followed up with any kind of substantive law enforcement action by UK authorities, according to the report. [29]

In July 2016 it was reported that fraudulent activity levels in the UK increased in the 10 years to 2016 from £52 billion to £193bn. This figure would be a conservative estimate, since as the former commissioner of the City of London Police, Adrian Leppard, has said, only 1 in 12 such crimes are actually reported. [30] Donald Toon, director of the NCA's economic crime command, stated in July 2016: "The annual losses to the UK from fraud are estimated to be more than £190bn". Figures released in October 2015 from the Crime Survey of England and Wales found that there had been 5.1 million incidents of fraud in England and Wales in the previous year, affecting an estimated one in 12 adults and making it the most common form of crime. [31]

Also in July 2016, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) stated "Almost six million fraud and cyber crimes were committed last year in England and Wales and estimated there were two million computer misuse offences and 3.8 million fraud offences in the 12 months to the end of March 2016." Fraud affects one in ten people in the UK. According to the ONS most frauds relate to bank account fraud. These figures are separate from the headline estimate that another 6.3 million crimes (distinct from frauds) were perpetrated in the UK against adults in the year to March 2016. [32]

Fraud was not included in a "Crime Harm Index" published by the Office for National Statistics in 2016. Michael Levi, professor of criminology at Cardiff University, remarked in August 2016 that it was "deeply regrettable" fraud is being left out of the first index despite being the most common crime reported to police in the UK. Levi said "If you've got some categories that are excluded, they are automatically left out of the police's priorities."[ citation needed ] The Chief of the National Audit Office (NAO), Sir Anyas Morse has also said "For too long, as a low-value but high-volume crime, online fraud has been overlooked by government, law enforcement and industry. It is now the most commonly experienced crime in England and Wales and demands an urgent response." [33]

England, Wales, and Northern Ireland

Since 2007, fraud in England and Wales and Northern Ireland has been covered by the Fraud Act 2006. The Act was given Royal Assent on 8 November 2006, and came into effect on 15 January 2007. [34]

The Act gives a statutory definition of the criminal offence of fraud, defining it in three classes—fraud by false representation, fraud by failing to disclose information, and fraud by abuse of position. It provides that a person found guilty of fraud is liable to a fine or imprisonment for up to twelve months on summary conviction (six months in Northern Ireland), or a fine or imprisonment for up to ten years on conviction on indictment. This Act largely replaces the laws relating to obtaining property by deception, obtaining a pecuniary advantage and other offences that were created under the Theft Act 1978.

Scotland

In Scots law, fraud is covered under the common law and a number of statutory offences. The main fraud offences are common law fraud, uttering, embezzlement and statutory frauds. The Fraud Act 2006 does not apply in Scotland.

Serious Fraud Office

The Serious Fraud Office (United Kingdom) is an arm of the Government of the United Kingdom, accountable to the Attorney-General.

National Fraud Authority

The National Fraud Authority (NFA) was, until 2014, a government agency co-ordinating the counter-fraud response in the UK.

Cifas

Cifas is a British fraud prevention service, a not-for-profit membership organisation for all sectors that enables organisations to share and access fraud data using their databases. Cifas is dedicated to the prevention of fraud, including internal fraud by staff, and the identification of financial and related crime.

Cost

The typical organization loses five percent of its annual revenue to fraud, with a median loss of $160,000. Frauds committed by owners and executives were more than nine times as costly as employee fraud. The industries most commonly affected are banking, manufacturing, and government. [35]

Types of fraudulent acts

The highly decorated fake uniform worn by a man impersonating a "Marine" caught by two gunnery sergeants at Times Square in New York City, New York USMC-01464.jpg
The highly decorated fake uniform worn by a man impersonating a "Marine" caught by two gunnery sergeants at Times Square in New York City, New York
A possibly fraudulent "work from home" advertisement Workathomead.jpg
A possibly fraudulent "work from home" advertisement

The falsification of documents, forgery, and counterfeiting are types of fraud. The theft of one's personal information, like Social Security number, or identity is type of fraud. Fraud can be committed through many media, including mail, wire, phone, and the Internet (computer crime and Internet fraud). International dimensions of the web and ease with which users can hide their location, the difficulty of checking identity and legitimacy online, and the simplicity with which hackers can divert browsers to dishonest sites and steal credit card details have all contributed to the very rapid growth of Internet fraud. In some countries, tax fraud is also prosecuted under false billing or tax forgery. [36] There have also been fraudulent "discoveries", e.g., in science, to gain prestige rather than immediate monetary gain.[ citation needed ]

Anti-fraud movements

Beyond laws that aim at prevention of fraud, there are also governmental and non-governmental organizations that aim to fight fraud. Between 1911 and 1933, 47 states adopted the so-called Blue Sky Laws status. [37] These laws were enacted and enforced at the state level and regulated the offering and sale of securities to protect the public from fraud. Though the specific provisions of these laws varied among states, they all required the registration of all securities offerings and sales, as well as of every U.S. stockbroker and brokerage firm. [38] However, these Blue Sky laws were generally found to be ineffective. To increase public trust in the capital markets the President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, established the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). [39] The main reason for the creation of the SEC was to regulate the stock market and prevent corporate abuses relating to the offering and sale of securities and corporate reporting. The SEC was given the power to license and regulate stock exchanges, the companies whose securities traded on them, and the brokers and dealers who conducted the trading. [40]

Detection

A fraudulent Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price on a speaker White Van Speaker Scam fraudulent MSRP.jpg
A fraudulent Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price on a speaker

For detection of fraudulent activities on the large scale, massive use of (online) data analysis is required, in particular predictive analytics or forensic analytics. Forensic analytics is the use of electronic data to reconstruct or detect financial fraud. The steps in the process are data collection, data preparation, data analysis, and the preparation of a report and possibly a presentation of the results. Using computer-based analytic methods Nigrini's wider goal is the detection of fraud, errors, anomalies, inefficiencies, and biases which refer to people gravitating to certain dollar amounts to get past internal control thresholds. [41]

The analytic tests usually start with high-level data overview tests to spot highly significant irregularities. In a recent purchasing card application these tests identified a purchasing card transaction for 3,000,000 Costa Rica Colons. This was neither a fraud nor an error, but it was a highly unusual amount for a purchasing card transaction. These high-level tests include tests related to Benford's Law and possibly also those statistics known as descriptive statistics. These high-tests are always followed by more focused tests to look for small samples of highly irregular transactions. The familiar methods of correlation and time-series analysis can also be used to detect fraud and other irregularities. Forensic analytics also includes the use of a fraud risk-scoring model to identify high risk forensic units (customers, employees, locations, insurance claims and so on). Forensic analytics also includes suggested tests to identify financial statement irregularities, but the general rule is that analytic methods alone are not too successful at detecting financial statement fraud. [42]

Notable fraudsters

Apart from fraud, there are several related categories of intentional deceptions that may or may not include the elements of personal gain or damage to another individual:

See also

Related Research Articles

A tort, in common law jurisdiction, is a civil wrong that causes a claimant to suffer loss or harm, resulting in legal liability for the person who commits a tortious act. It can include the intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, financial losses, injuries, invasion of privacy and many other things.

Theft Act of taking anothers property without permission or consent

In common usage, theft is the taking of another person's property or services without that person's permission or consent with the intent to deprive the rightful owner of it. The word is also used as an informal shorthand term for some crimes against property, such as burglary, embezzlement, larceny, looting, robbery, shoplifting, library theft or fraud. In some jurisdictions, theft is considered to be synonymous with larceny; in others, theft has replaced larceny. Someone who carries out an act of or makes a career of theft is known as a thief. The act of theft is also known by other terms such as stealing, thieving, and filching.

Ponzi scheme Type of financial fraud

A Ponzi scheme is a form of fraud that lures investors and pays profits to earlier investors with funds from more recent investors. The scheme leads victims to believe that profits are coming from product sales or other means, and they remain unaware that other investors are the source of funds. A Ponzi scheme can maintain the illusion of a sustainable business as long as new investors contribute new funds, and as long as most of the investors do not demand full repayment and still believe in the non-existent assets they are purported to own.

Robbery Taking or attempting to take something of value by force or threat of force or by putting the victim in fear

Robbery is the crime of taking or attempting to take anything of value by force, threat of force, or by putting the victim in fear. According to common law, robbery is defined as taking the property of another, with the intent to permanently deprive the person of that property, by means of force or fear; that is, it is a larceny or theft accomplished by an assault. Precise definitions of the offence may vary between jurisdictions. Robbery is differentiated from other forms of theft by its inherently violent nature ; whereas many lesser forms of theft are punished as misdemeanors, robbery is always a felony in jurisdictions that distinguish between the two. Under English law, most forms of theft are triable either way, whereas robbery is triable only on indictment. The word "rob" came via French from Late Latin words of Germanic origin, from Common Germanic raub "theft".

Champerty and maintenance are doctrines in common law jurisdictions that aim to preclude frivolous litigation:

Forgery process of making, adapting, or imitating objects, statistics, or documents with the intent to deceive

Forgery is a white-collar crime that generally refers to the false making or material alteration of a legal instrument with the specific intent to defraud anyone. Tampering with a certain legal instrument may be forbidden by law in some jurisdictions but such an offense is not related to forgery unless the tampered legal instrument was actually used in the course of the crime to defraud another person or entity. Copies, studio replicas, and reproductions are not considered forgeries, though they may later become forgeries through knowing and willful misrepresentations.

Larceny is a crime involving the unlawful taking of the personal property of another person or business. It was an offence under the common law of England and became an offence in jurisdictions which incorporated the common law of England into their own law, where in many cases it remains in force.

Identity theft deliberate use of someone elses identity, usually as a method to gain a financial advantage or obtain credit and other benefits in the other persons name, and perhaps to the other persons disadvantage or loss

Identity theft is the deliberate use of someone else's identity, usually as a method to gain a financial advantage or obtain credit and other benefits in the other person's name, and perhaps to the other person's disadvantage or loss. The person whose identity has been assumed may suffer adverse consequences, especially if they are held responsible for the perpetrator's actions. Identity theft occurs when someone uses another's personally identifying information, like their name, identifying number, or credit card number, without their permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. The term identity theft was coined in 1964. Since that time, the definition of identity theft has been statutorily prescribed throughout both the U.K. and the United States as the theft of personally identifiable information, generally including a person's name, date of birth, social security number, driver's license number, bank account or credit card numbers, PIN numbers, electronic signatures, fingerprints, passwords, or any other information that can be used to access a person's financial resources.

In criminal law, property is obtained by false pretenses when the acquisition results from intentional misrepresenting of a past or existing fact.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is a non-ministerial government department of the Government of the United Kingdom that investigates and prosecutes serious or complex fraud and corruption in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The SFO is accountable to the Attorney General for England and Wales, and was established by the Criminal Justice Act 1987, an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Section 2 of the Criminal Justice Act 1987 grants the SFO special compulsory powers to require any person to provide any relevant documents and answer any relevant questions including ones about confidential matters. The SFO is the principal enforcer of the Bribery Act 2010, which has been designed to encourage good corporate governance and enhance the reputation of the City of London and the UK as a safe place to do business. Its jurisdiction does not extend to Scotland where fraud and corruption are investigated by Police Scotland through their Specialist Crime Division, and prosecutions are undertaken by the Economic Crime Unit of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

Forensic accounting accounting of engagements from disputes or litigation which have or are expected to happen

Forensic accounting, forensic accountancy or financial forensics is the specialty practice area of accounting that describes engagements that result from actual or anticipated disputes or litigation. "Forensic" means "suitable for use in a court of law", and it is to that standard and potential outcome that forensic accountants generally have to work. Forensic accountants, also referred to as forensic auditors or investigative auditors, often have to give expert evidence at the eventual trial. All of the larger accounting firms, as well as many medium-sized and boutique firms and various police and government agencies have specialist forensic accounting departments. Within these groups, there may be further sub-specializations: some forensic accountants may, for example, just specialize in insurance claims, personal injury claims, fraud, anti-money-laundering, construction, or royalty audits.

Mail fraud and wire fraud are federal crimes in the United States that involve mailing or electronically transmitting something associated with fraud. Jurisdiction is claimed by the federal government if the illegal activity crosses interstate or international borders.

Insurance fraud is any act committed to defraud an insurance process. This occurs when a claimant attempts to obtain some benefit or advantage they are not entitled to, or when an insurer knowingly denies some benefit that is due. According to the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, the most common schemes include: premium diversion, fee churning, asset diversion, and workers compensation fraud. Perpetrators in these schemes can be insurance company employees or claimants. False insurance claims are insurance claims filed with the fraudulent intention towards an insurance provider.

SEC Rule 10b-5, codified at 17 C.F.R. 240.10b-5, is one of the most important rules targeting securities fraud promulgated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, pursuant to its authority granted under § 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The rule prohibits any act or omission resulting in fraud or deceit in connection with the purchase or sale of any security. The issue of insider trading is given further definition in SEC Rule 10b5-1.

Securities fraud, also known as stock fraud and investment fraud, is a deceptive practice in the stock or commodities markets that induces investors to make purchase or sale decisions on the basis of false information, frequently resulting in losses, in violation of securities laws.

Employment fraud is an attempt to defraud people who are seeking employment by giving them false hope of better employment, often with more favorable hours, better job duties, or higher wages.They often advertise at the same locations as genuine employers and may ask for money in exchange for an opportunity to apply for a job.

Fraud Act 2006 United Kingdom legislation

The Fraud Act 2006 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which affects England and Wales and Northern Ireland. It was given royal assent on 8 November 2006, and came into effect on 15 January 2007.

Forensic accountants are experienced auditors, accountants, and investigators of legal and financial documents that are hired to look into possible suspicions of fraudulent activity within a company; or are hired by a company who may just want to prevent fraudulent activities from occurring. They also provide services in areas such as accounting, antitrust, damages, analysis, valuation, and general consulting. Forensic accountants have also been used in divorces, bankruptcy, insurance claims, personal injury claims, fraudulent claims, construction, royalty audits, and tracking terrorism by investigating financial records. Many forensic accountants work closely with law enforcement personnel and lawyers during investigations and often appear as expert witnesses during trials.

At law, cheating is a specific criminal offence relating to property.

Rape by deception is a situation in which the perpetrator obtains the victim's agreement to engage in sexual intercourse or other sex acts, but gains it by deception or false statements or actions. Judicial treatment of such situations varies greatly by country and even by case.

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Further reading