The Government has given business a new weapon against fraudsters – at least those whose frauds are detected – in the form of the Fraud Act 2006.
Under the old legislation, obtaining a conviction for fraud was difficult and depended on the actions or beliefs of the person who suffered the fraud. The new Act replaces the previous deception offences with three new offences. The key difference is that the new offences depend on the actions and representations of the perpetrator of the offence.
The Act also makes unlawful the manufacture, supply, adaptation or possession of equipment for the commission of fraud – this will make the possession of credit-card cloning equipment unlawful, for example. It also creates a new offence of fraudulent trading by a sole trader.
The new fraud offences are:
- fraud by false representation. This is committed when a false representation is made which the person making it knew was or might be false and which was made with the intent to make a gain or cause loss;
- fraud by failing to disclose information. This is committed when the perpetrator fails to disclose information which he is under a legal duty to disclose and which is withheld with the intent of making a gain or causing a loss; and
- fraud by abuse of position. This is committed when the perpetrator is in a position of trust and acts dishonestly with the intention of making a gain or causing a loss.
Lastly, there is a new offence of obtaining services dishonestly. This involves obtaining services for which payment is due and failing to pay, in whole or in part, where this is done with the intent that payment will be avoided.