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6.1 Fraud - Introduction

Welcome to the seventh topic in this module guide – Fraud! Fraud can generally be defined as criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain. Fraud encompasses a variety of crimes that include, but are not limited to, fraud by false representation, fraud by failing to disclose information, fraud by abuse of position and obtaining services dishonestly.

The law regarding fraud was reformed through the enactment of the Fraud Act 2006, which came into law on 15th January 2007. Prior to this, the fraud offences were set out in sections 15, 16 and 20 of the Theft Act 1968, and sections 1 and 2 of the Theft Act 1978. The decision for reform arose out of the Law Commission’s Report on Fraud, published in 2002, which criticised the law at the time for being too broad and complicated. The report also stated that the law was out of date, in that it did not make any allowance for modern means of defrauding through technological advances.

Goals for this section:

  • To understand the actus reus and mens rea components of fraud by false representation, fraud by failing to disclose information, fraud by abuse of position and obtaining services dishonestly.
  • To appreciate the charging and sentencing guidelines for each of the offences mentioned above.

Objectives for this section:

  • To be able to appreciate the complexities of the concept of dishonesty, which is undefined in the Act, with regards to the mens rea of the fraud offences. This concept is difficult as there is no set universal standard of dishonesty and there is the possibility that this will, in cases where the conduct is contentious, vary significantly from jury to jury.
  • To be able to comprehend that obtaining services dishonestly overlaps with making a false representation and often the fraud by false representation offence will be the preferable charge as there is no requirement that any deception need occur.
  • To be able to analyse and evaluate the nuances of all the fraud offences, as required in an examination.

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