What Is Fraud?
Fraud is a serious property offence. If you are charged with fraud, it’s essential to know what it entails and its impact on your life.
According to section 380 of the Canadian Criminal Code, fraud is perpetrated when an individual, “by deceit, falsehood, or other fraudulent means, whether or not it is a false pretense within the meaning of this Act, defrauds the public or any person, whether ascertained or not, of any property, money or valuable security or any service.”
In other words, fraud is when anyone, through inequitable means, deprives another person of their property.
There are two categories of fraud charges;
- Fraud over $5000 – any fraud charge involving a property valued at over $5,000 is an indictable offence, carrying a maximum of 14 years in prison.
- Fraud under $5000 – any fraud offence valued at under $5,000 is a hybrid offence. This means that as per the offence, the Crown can proceed by indictment or summary conviction. As an indictable offence, a conviction carries a maximum of 2 years in prison. As a summary conviction, fraud under has a maximum of 6 months in jail.
Fraud charges can lead to severe long-term consequences upon conviction, including loss of employment, hefty penalties, and possible imprisonment. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to retain a Fraud Lawyer Toronto with vast experience in fraud cases to protect your rights and fight the charges against you.
About Zamani Law
Zamani Law is a premier criminal defence firm that has been defending persons facing criminal charges, including fraud. We have vast experience and expertise in fraud offences, enabling us to handle any minor or major fraud charges.
Our team of lawyers, paralegals, and other legal professionals review the case build by the Crown, noting every weakness and strength. This helps us build a strong defence and get as much evidence excluded from the case, alleviating the charges against you or getting them dropped. Our lawyers are tenacious and aggressive in court, and they’ll fight to attain the most favourable outcome.
Types of Fraud
As noted earlier, fraud is broadly categorized into two, i.e., offences under $5,000 and offences over $5,000. However, there are many types of fraud, and at Zamani Law, we have the experience, expertise, and resources to deal with any of them.
Some of them include:
- Advance fee loans schemes
- Breach of trust
- Charity fraud
- Computer fraud
- Credit card fraud
- Cross-border fraud
- Employer-employee fraud
- Franchise fraud
- Fraud on government
- Inheritance fraud
- Insider trading
- Insurance fraud
- Investment fraud
- Loan fraud
- Mail fraud
- Mortgage fraud
- Misappropriation of funds
- Phone scams
- Ponzi schemes
- Real estate fraud
- Romance fraud
- Tax fraud
- White-collar fraud
This list is not comprehensive of all fraud allegations one can face in Canada. For more information on fraud and related offences or to schedule a consultation, please contact us.
Proving Fraud Charges
The burden of proof lies with the Crown Prosecutors, as they’re the ones building a case against the accused party. As the defence, we scrutinize any evidence provided and contend its admissibility pursuant to the Canada Evidence Act.
For the Crown to prove fraud charges and get a conviction, they must prove the following, beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The identity of the accused
- That the accused intended to commit the act
- That the accused deprived the complainant of something of value or put them at risk of losing something of value
- That the loss resulted from deceit, falsehood, or other fraudulent means
- The date, time, and place that the fraud occurred
FRAUD & FALSE PRETENSES ARE COVERED UNDER S.380 OF THE CRIMINAL CODE OF CANADA
Fraud offences are divided into 2 categories
- Fraud over $5,000
Fraud over $5,000 is an indictable offence with a maximum penalty of 14 years.
- Fraud under $5000
The Crown has a choice as to whether they wish to proceed by
indictment or by summary conviction.
By indictment the penalty maximum sentence is 2 years.
By summary conviction the maximum sentence is 6 months.
The fraud must be accomplished by deceit, falsehood or other fraudulent means. This means that the accused must have an intent to defraud to attract criminal responsibility.
The victim does not have to actually suffer economic loss. There must at the very least be a risk of prejudice to economic interest.
Fraud charges can range from a simple transfer of price-tags to major credit card and mortgage transactions, etc. involving millions of dollars.
At Zamani Law, we have had extensive experience in defending both major and minor scale fraud charges. We take advantage of every loop-hole and weakness in the Crown’s case. We put the Crown to the strict proof of each and every piece of evidence. We will have evidence excluded that is not properly presented to the court. The onus is on the Crown to prove the charge beyond reasonable doubt. We do not have to prove innocence.
RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT (POLICE INVESTIGATIONS)
In almost every case it is vital that the accused exercise his right to remain silent. You do not need to assist the police in any way and your own words may ultimately be used against you in court. Do not try to outsmart the police. Remaining silent does not imply guilt. It is your right. Lying to Police is a criminal offence. You do not have to answer any questions.
Note: The police are entitled to lie to you in order to induce a statement. If you are being investigated with respect to a fraud allegation, speak to a lawyer prior to any dealings with the police.
POSSIBLE PENALTIES FOR FRAUD:
- Conditional sentence (jail term served in the community)
- Suspended sentence with probation
- Conditional discharge (probation with no conviction)
- Absolute discharge
- Criminal record
- Travel restrictions
- Credit rating
- Immigration issues
- Employment issues
A conviction for Fraud causes serious problems because it is considered a crime of dishonesty.
FACTORS THAT IMPACT PENALTY:
- The amount of fraud
- The degree of sophistication and planning
- Did the fraud involve a breach of trust
- The history of the accused (prior record, age, etc.)
- Reasons for the fraud (e.g. gambling addiction)
- Has restitution been made or is it possible
- The number of victims
- Vulnerability of the victims
AGGRAVATING FACTORS S. 380.1 CRIMINAL CODE OF CANADA
The Criminal Code has provided a non-exhaustive list of factors which are to be considered by the courts as aggravating with respect to the issue of sentencing.
PLEA BARGAINING, REDUCED CHARGES, WITHDRAWAL OF CHARGES
Many fraud prosecutions have a complicated paper trail which can make it very difficult for the Crown to prove. In addition, the amount of court time required to prove the case can be lengthy. These factors encourage the Crown prosecutors to pursue possible resolution. If restitution can be made a complete withdrawal of the charge can in some instances be negotiated with the Crown.