The Ins and Outs of Felony Fraud
The law of England and Wales no longer distinguishes misdemeanours from felonies, which are now simply regarded as indictable offences. What may be described as a felony in other countries (most notably the United States) is merely a criminal act in the UK, albeit one that is invariably serious in nature or consequence.
What is Fraud?
Fraud is one of the most serious crimes in the UK. Covering aspects of bribery and corruption, fraud can be defined as any deceptive act whose motivation is personal gain or another party’s loss. Most instances of fraud involve a person’s failure to disclose important or accurate information, false representation or abuse of position, as described in the Fraud Act 2006.
The rate of fraud tends to increase during times of economic difficulty. Serious fraud typically involves huge sums of cash or valuable assets; for example, when stockbrokers operate Ponzi schemes to defraud investors.
Of course, there are many different types of fraud, many of which involve the unlawful transfer of money. One example is cheque fraud. This often involves someone forging another person’s signature or creating a fake cheque in order to gain access to money. The penalty for this type of fraud may depend on the amount of money in question, the severity of the deception or whether the crime was a one-off or frequent act. Any person convicted of fraud will need the services of a specialist solicitor.
The Fraud Act 2006 outlines two penalties for any person who is found guilty of fraud: summary conviction can lead to a term of imprisonment lasting no longer than twelve months; conviction on indictment can result in a maximum prison term of ten years. Either punishment may be replaced or supplemented by a fine.
Insurance fraud is also common, especially in the motoring and property sectors. Criminals have been known to forge death certificates to access money from insurance policies. Again, the severity of the crime and the damage or loss it has caused will be considered by the court. Insurance fraud is often carried out by professional criminals who work in gangs. Often, there is a nominated person who, depending on his expertise, takes responsibility for different stages of the crime. For example, a staged car accident may involve a number of gang members: one person to target the victim on the road, another person to drive the ‘attacking’ vehicle and a third person to fake injury and put in the claim to the insurance company.
Home to some of the UK’s leading serious fraud solicitors, Manchester also happens to be a hotspot for so-called crash-for-cash accidents, but lawyers in the city should be able to deal with all types of fraud.
The Fraud Act 2006 lists separate offences of making, supplying or having possession of “articles for use in frauds”, obtaining services through dishonesty and participating in fraudulent business activities. These offences are subject to different penalties. In the UK, fraud is heavily linked to bribery and corruption, which may take the form of extortion, corporate espionage, illegal gratuity and other related offences.
Written by Ava Watkins.