Fraud involves deliberately deceiving someone, whether it’s an individual or the general public, for the purpose of obtaining an unfair gain. Deception may take the form of misrepresenting, concealing, or failing to disclose certain facts. Some cases of fraud are considered both a civil and criminal offense, meaning that someone accused of committing fraud may be prosecuted by both the victim and government authorities.

Types of Fraud

Fraud can take a number of different forms. It may involve buying and selling property, whether it’s something tangible such as a car or real estate, or something intangible such as copyrights, stocks, identity or intellectual property. It can take place through a variety of mediums, including over the telephone, in the mail, and on the internet. The problem of internet fraud has grown in the last decades as fraudsters have moved online. Internet fraud is more difficult to trace compared to other forms of fraud due to the relative anonymity of online fraudsters and the problem of determining the legitimacy of websites. Auction fraud, advance fee fraud, counterfeit payment fraud, and email fraud are just a few of the examples of fraud that take place online.

Examples of Fraud

The “Nigerian Letter” or “419 Fraud” is a widely-known example of online fraud involving an advance fee scheme. The hoax involves an email or a letter mailed from Nigeria. The content of the message includes an opportunity to share in a percentage of money – usually millions of dollars – that the author, a self-proclaimed member of the royal family or government official, would like to transfer to the recipient of the letter. The recipient is asked to send his or her banking information to the author so that the money may be deposited in his or her account. The hoax hinges on the recipient believing that the letter is legitimate. In reality, the money doesn’t exist and the receiver of the letter incurs a loss by either giving out his or her information or sending money with the promise of receiving more money.

Young Man Possibly Commiting Computer Fraud

Young Man Possibly Commiting Computer Fraud

Proving Fraud

Fraud can be difficult to prove in court. The defendant must be shown to have given a false statement of material fact, meaning he or she lied about something. This involves somehow proving that the defendant knew that the statement of material fact that he or she gave was not true and that the defendant actually intended to deceive using a false statement. In some cases, it’s easy to confuse deliberate deception with misinformation on the part of the defendant. The final requirement for proving fraud in court lies in showing the harm or injury that resulted when the victim was deceived, whether it was financial loss or damage to his or her reputation.

Quick Summary

Fraud involves deliberately deceiving someone in order to gain in some way, most often financially. In order to be convicted of fraud, defendants accused of committing fraud must be shown to know that they are providing untrue or false information. Fraud must be a deliberate deception on the part of the perpetrator as opposed to a misinformation.