Fraud law


Generally, fraud is the deception by one or more people for monetary gain, and fraud law exists to protect individuals from a wide variety of fraudulent activities. Fraud law identifies the following types of offences as fraudulent:

  • Income tax and VAT evasion
  • Benefit fraud
  • Council tax fraud
  • Business fraud such as illegal share trading
  • Identity fraud
  • Online fraud with phishing attacks

What is the law on fraud?

The Fraud Act 2006 defined three ways of committing fraud:

  • False representation
  • Failure to disclose information
  • Abuse of position

The Act also created the offences of:

  • Obtaining services dishonestly
  • Possessing, making and supplying articles for use in fraud
  • Fraudulent trading (applicable to non-corporate traders)

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is the part of the government that investigates suspected fraud where £1m or more is involved. The SFO covers England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but not the Isle of Man or Scotland, and does not have any powers of arrest. Instead it works in conjunction with the police.

Commercial fraud and criminal fraud

Commercial fraud arises when a business is acting illegally and in breach of the Fraud Act 2006. This may be where false representations are made which cause you to buy from their business and potentially suffer a loss, or perhaps where the company claims to have a professional standard which in reality it does not.

All companies must be registered with Companies House and if you have had links with a company that is discovered to be fraudulent, past or present, then you should consult a specialist to ensure that you will not be liable for any of their illicit activities.

Criminal fraud occurs where individuals make false representations. Identity theft is a key example of criminal fraud. This is increasingly prevalent through internet email scams pretending to be from banks asking for updated bank details, as well as those stealing identities to create false passports or driving licenses.

Many of us are now aware of these scams but as the fraudsters become increasingly inventive it is important to be aware of what information we disclose to other people to prevent criminal fraud from occurring.

The next steps

If you become the victim of any kind of fraud, fraud law is there to protect you. The police treat each case of fraud seriously. Cases such as identity theft or online financial fraud such as the use of stolen credit cards will usually come before a court. You should always have the services of a qualified solicitor available to you. If you cannot afford a solicitor, you may be able to apply for legal aid to fund your case.

Fraud law can be highly complex especially when financial fraud is concerned. Never attempt to bring your own case, as the courts will want to see that you have proper legal representation. Your solicitor can also arrange for a barrister to act for you if your case does go to court and criminal charges are being heard. In these circumstances, the support and advice of your solicitor will be invaluable.

For specific advice on issues relating to criminal fraud, see our information page on criminal fraud.

Do you have a case concerning either criminal or commercial fraud? Contact Law works with solicitors specialising in fraud cases who can advise you whether you are the defendant or the claimant. Please call us on 0800 046 1464 or complete the web-form above.

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