What is fraud?
Fraud is a very broad criminal offence that ranges from altering a price tag to multi-million dollar Ponzi schemes. While the charge is very similar to theft, fraud requires deceit or falsehood. Depending on the monetary value of the fraud, an accused may be charged with fraud under $5,000 or fraud over $5,000. With the exception of the monetary value, the elements of the two offences are the same but the punishments are drastically different. A fraud conviction can result in sentences ranging from discharges to significant periods of incarceration.
- In order to be convicted of fraud, the Crown Prosecutor must prove certain elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The accused deprived the complainant of something of value or there was a risk of losing something of value;
- The deprivation was caused by deceit, falsehood or other fraudulent means; and
- The accused intended to defraud the complainant or had knowledge that the conduct could result in deprivation.
Deceit is an untrue statement made by a person who knows that it is untrue, or has reason to believe it is untrue, but makes it despite that risk, to induce another person to act on it, as if it were true, to that other person’s detriment. As such, if a person was unaware that the statement was untrue, they cannot be found guilty of fraud unless they were wilfully blind or reckless to whether the statement was untrue.
“Other fraudulent means” is a term that covers the wide-range of possible types of fraudulent activity. Types of fraudulent activity includes:
- Breach of trusts
- Misuse of corporate accounts
- Non-disclosure of material acts
- Breach of contractual obligations
- Unauthorized diversion of funds or property
Fraud is an incredibly complex area of law often involving voluminous disclosure, forensic accountants and specialized prosecutors. Due to its complexity, it is important to have a highly skilled defence lawyer by your side. Cory Wilson has significant experience representing individuals charged with fraud including the largest fraud in Canadian history.