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Fraud is a wide-ranging term that covers a multitude of offences involving deception or misrepresentation and a financial gain or loss. In this section, we will discuss frauds involving individuals. Although many of these offences can be committed by businesses, if you are looking specifically for business crimes then please see our corporate section.
The Fraud Act 2006 contains seven criminal offences:
- 1. Fraud by false representation, i.e. lying to acquite property or cause a loss to another person;
- 2. Fraud by failing to disclose information, i.e. dishonestly failing to disclose information that you have a legal duty to disclose;
- 3. Fraud by abuse of position, this occurs where you are expected to safeguard, or not act against, another’s financial interests but you dishonestly do so;
- 4. Possessing articles for use in fraud;
- 5. Making articles for use in fraud;
- 6. Participating in a fraudulent business carried on by a sole trader, this is a business that is carried out by an individual (or individuals) with the intention of defrauding creditors of any person or for any other purpose. Note that there is an alternative offence of fraudulent trading by a limited company contained within the Companies Act 2006; and
- 7. Obtaining services by misrepresentation, which is where you obtain services via a dishonest act and where payment is required but you never intend to make that payment
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The Social Security Administration Act 1992 also creates fraud offences involving making a false statement or producing a false document in order to obtain benefits. It is also an offence to fail to notify the authorities of a change in your circumstances that affects your entitlement to benefits.
Conviction of any of these offences is likely to result in a prison sentence in more serious cases and a community order is less serious cases. There is also the possibility of the prosecutor seeking to recover any fraudulently acquired funds from you. In social security cases, this will be often be done by reducing the ongoing benefit payments until the overpayment is cleared. In other cases, the prosecutor may see a Confiscation Order, which establishes the total benefit you had from the crime and then directs an amount to be repaid. It is important to note with confiscation orders that the payment figure is often less than the benefit figure; however, the benefit figure remains payable should you come into money in future so it is very important that these are dealt with properly.
If you have been accused of any type of fraud offence then do not hesitate to call us so you can instruct expert solicitors to defend your case.