Have you been accused of an offence under the Fraud Act? The penalties for fraud offences can be severe and the consequences of a guilty verdict may be life-changing. In order to begin working towards the best possible outcome in your case, it is crucial to secure the services of expert lawyers with experience handling these types of offences. Fraud is not only a serious crime but one which can often lead to complex and long investigations.
At Lawtons we have the knowledge and expertise not only to build a strong defence case on your behalf but to guide you and your loved ones through the proceedings that lie ahead, working closely alongside you at every step. Do not delay in contacting us by calling 0333 577 0522.
What is the Fraud Act?
The Fraud Act 2006 came into effect in England and Wales in January 2007, and replaced certain sections of the Theft Act 1968 and Theft Act 1978 relating to ‘deception’.
Under the guidelines of the Fraud Act, it is understood that in many cases an act of fraud also constitutes the separate offence of theft. The minimum sentence for theft is lower.
Certain offences of fraud are covered by the original Theft Act, such as false accounting, false statements by company directors and making off without payment. Others come under different acts altogether, such as the Computer Misuse Act, the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act, the Identity Cards Act, the Proceeds of Crime Act or the Financial Services and Markets Act.
Prosecutors must decide which specific offence of those covered under the Fraud Act has been committed depending on the nature of the crime.
What types of fraud offences are there?
Under the law of England and Wales there are three main types of fraud that can be committed under the Fraud Act:
- Fraud by false representation. The representation can be either express or implied, and if it is untrue or misleading and the person knows it is, then they are committing fraud
- Fraud by abuse of position. This is where someone occupies a position where they are expected to safeguard the financial interests of someone else, and they may abuse it either by an act or an omission
- Fraud by failure to disclose information when there is a legal duty to do so
For any of the above, the main criteria for committing fraud are:
- Evidence of dishonest conduct
- The intention to make a gain or cause a loss (or the risk of loss) to another person
- This gain or loss does not actually have to have been made for fraud to be committed
What happens if I am accused of fraud?
Fraud is an either-way offence, meaning that it may be tried either in the Crown Court or the Magistrates’ Court. If the case is referred to the Crown Court and you plead not guilty to the offence of fraud, a jury trial will take place in which the defence case will have to prove you did not commit the offence.
What is conspiracy to defraud?
It means conspiring to deprive another person of something belonging to them, or to which they are entitled, meaning that the intended fraud does not have to have been committed for an offence to have taken place. You can be accused of conspiring to commit the offence with someone else even if the other person is not themselves known.
This particular offence is defined by being committed in conspiracy with one or more other people, so the prosecution must prove not only that the defendant acted dishonestly and intended to make a gain , but had an agreement in place with someone else.
What are the sentencing guidelines for fraud offences?
In the event of a guilty verdict the maximum sentence for the three types of offences under the Fraud Act, as outlined above, is 10 years’ imprisonment. Conspiracy to defraud carries the same maximum sentence.
Other offences carry shorter maximum sentences, for example obtaining services dishonestly, for which the maximum sentence is 5 years’ imprisonment.
Contact us today
If you are under investigation for fraud, the most important thing you can do is begin to build a robust defence case. At Lawtons our expert team of solicitors is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Let us help you take the first step towards securing your future and safeguarding your reputation, by calling us urgently on 0333 577 0522 for a consultation.
FAQs about Fraud Act Offences
What makes fraud different from theft?
Does a loss have to have taken place for fraud to be committed?
What are the available defences in a fraud case?