R. Todd Bennett, P.C.
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The 6 elements of fraud

If someone accuses you of fraud, that accusation alone may not be enough. Fraud has to be proven to a legal standard, and there are six basic elements that generally need to be present for the charges to stand.

The key to your defense, then, may simply lie in understanding what these elements are and how they pertain to your case. If they're not all present, you can argue that you never committed fraud in the first place, regardless of how the other party felt about whatever happened between the two of you. The six elements are:

  1. You made a claim to someone else.
  2. That claim was not true.
  3. You knew at the time that the claim was false, or you made the claim in a reckless manner -- in other words, you had no idea if it was true or not and didn't try to find out before claiming that it was.
  4. You made that claim because you wanted the other party to rely on it in some fashion.
  5. They did rely on your claim, not knowing it was false.
  6. As a result, they suffered some sort of direct harm. It is typically financial.

For instance, maybe you run a business. You claimed that the cost of services would be half what it would really be in order to get a job. After doing the job, you revealed the true cost and charged the person far more than they expected. They never would have hired you at that price point, so they believe you committed fraud.

Whether or not these elements are present in your case, you need to know all of your legal options.

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