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Understanding what fraud means and how it occurs

Like many other Arizona residents, the trust of your family, friends and co-workers means a lot to you. When accusations of fraud jeopardize that trust, more than just the potential criminal or civil penalties could greatly affect your life. Dealing with such accusations, along with any charges, needs your attention right away.

Before you can move forward to defend yourself, however, it may be beneficial to understand what you face. Fraud comes in many forms and knowing exactly what fraud means and how it occurs could provide you with helpful insights as you plan your defense.

What does fraud mean?

In its simplest form, fraud means doing something dishonest in order to gain some advantage. Someone using deception to obtain something of value (like money, for example) commits fraud. One of three things is always part of a claim of fraud:

  • Misrepresentation
  • Deceitful conduct
  • False statement

Ordinarily, when an individual does one of these things, it is with the knowledge that the conduct, statement or representation is false.

The most common types of fraud

Fraud can occur under any number of circumstances, but the most common types of fraud include the following:

  • Insurance fraud
  • Wire fraud
  • Bankruptcy fraud
  • Telemarketing fraud
  • Credit or debit card fraud
  • Tax fraud
  • Securities fraud
  • Mail fraud
  • Identity theft

The victims of fraud can include anyone, such as the following:

  • Private individuals
  • Lenders
  • Small business owners
  • Landlords
  • Employers

What you may consider a "white lie" could actually constitute fraud if you gain something from the lie. For example, providing false references to a landlord, lender or prospective employer could get you in trouble. Doing so could cost you more than just losing a job opportunity or a place to live.

Elements of fraud

When it comes to prosecuting you for charges of fraud, the following separate elements must each be proved beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • You misrepresented a material fact
  • You knew the fact was false
  • The other party relied on the information
  • The other party suffered injury

If convicted, you could face incarceration, fines or probation, among other penalties ordered by a criminal court. Criminal charges could end up as the least of your worries. The allegedly injured party may also file a civil claim against you, which could result in a court entering a judgment against you.

If you face charges for some type of fraud, it would benefit you greatly to exercise your rights. These rights include the right to review any evidence prosecutors intend to present to the court, confronting witnesses in court and enlisting the aid of legal counsel. Remember, you are presumed innocent unless and until proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. You do not have to simply accept your fate.

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Ramos Law Firm | 14500 N. Northsight Blvd, Suite 229 | Scottsdale, AZ 85260 | Phone: (480) 247-8558 | Map & Directions