Thousands of people each year fall victim to fraudulent acts – often unknowingly. While many fraud cases go undetected, learning how to spot early warning signs can help you save time and money in the long run.
Fraud is a broad term that refers to various offenses involving dishonesty or “fraudulent acts”. In essence, fraud is the intentional deception of a person or entity by another made for monetary or personal purposes.
Fraud offenses always include some sort of misrepresentation, misrepresentation or deceptive conduct. The main purpose of fraud is to gain something of value (usually money or property) by misleading or deceiving someone into thinking that the fraudster knows to be false. While not every instance of dishonesty is fraud, knowing the warning signs may help stop someone from gaining any unfair advantage over your personal, financial, or business affairs.
What The Law Says About Fraud
Anti-fraud laws vary from state to state and can be criminal or civil. Criminal fraud requires criminal intent on the part of the author and is punishable by fines or imprisonment. Civil fraud, on the other hand, applies more broadly to circumstances where bad faith is generally involved, and where the sanctions are aimed at punishing the perpetrator and bringing the victim back in the same position before the fraud took place.
While the exact wording of the fraud charges varies according to state and federal laws. The essential elements necessary to prove an allegation of fraud in general include:
(1) A false declaration of an important fact
(2) By a person or an entity which knows or believes it to be false
(3) to a person or entity which rightly relies on the false declaration and
(4) to actual damage or loss resulting from its trust.
Most states require that each item be proven with “particularity” – which means that each item must be proven separately for a fraud charge to stand.
Types Of Fraud
There are many types of fraud offenses, many of which occur by mail, the Internet, telephone or wire. Common types include:
- Bankruptcy fraud
- Tax fraud (a.k.a. tax evasion)
- Identity theft
- Insurance fraud
- Mail fraud
- Credit/debit card fraud
- Securities fraud
- Telemarketing fraud
- Wire fraud
Warnings Signs Of Fraud – What To Look Out For
The warnings signs vary depending on the type of attempted fraud. For example, a warning sign for telemarketing fraud may include a phone call by an unknown caller asking you to “send money now” to receive an offer. Similarly, a warning sign for identity theft might be a call from someone asking for the digits of your social security number or last known address.
Other, more general, warning signs may include, receiving unsolicited mail requesting you to send money to a bogus account, losing your credit card or driver’s license, and promises made by an individual or company that seem “too good to be true”.
The practice of fraud is not always geared towards individuals. Business owners should also look for the perpetrators of fraud. Homeowners, loan officers, and other small business owners should also be aware of potential warning signs, such as phony references, incorrect phone numbers, or addresses on requests, for major purchases on bank card without regard to price, style of item, and so on. The golden rule to prevent potential fraud is to be vigilant in managing your business and personal affairs.
Penalties For Fraud Offenses
Sanctions for fraud offenses can include criminal, civil or both. Most criminal fraud offenses are considered serious crimes and are punishable by prison terms, fines, probation or all of the above. Civil sanctions can include restitution (reimbursement of the person) or payment of substantial fines (intended to punish the behavior). The penalties for your offense will depend on the nature, type, scope and gravity of the action and whether it was committed by an individual or an entity, such as a business, corporation or group.
What To Do If You Believe You Are A Victim Of Fraud
Fraud does not discriminate. Any person, group, company, government or entity can be the victim of fraud offenses. Often, victims of fraud face a range of emotions, including anger and betrayal of the perpetrator, shame or guilt, and / or fear and frustration at losing money or something. thing of value. If you think you are a victim of fraud, several national and local fraud victim assistance organizations can help you.
In many cases, victims of fraud do not recover the money or property actually lost. However, if you would like to prevent identity theft, and other common fraud violations, you may need to hire a lawyer who knows about the nuances of the laws concerning fraud in your state.