So what is fraud anyway? You may ask this question when finding yourself in an unwanted situation where you feel that fraud was committed by a large corporation against you, “the little guy.” Did a big corporation take advantage of you? How do you hold these large companies accountable? Did they indeed commit a fraudulent act? This is a complex question due to the many facets that define a fraud case. But basically “fraud” encompasses intentionally making false or misleading statements that harm the listener who is relying on those statements.
Fraud can be both a criminal violation and a civil violation. So we first need to determine whether the action constitutes a criminal or a civil case. Criminal fraud violations are prosecuted by the government, while civil fraud violations are brought by various individuals and organizations, and in a court of law, the difference between the two basically boils down to the burden of proof. In a criminal case this burden of proof is determined “beyond a reasonable doubt,” while in a civil case it is determined by “preponderance of the evidence” or “clear and convincing evidence.”
This may all seem a little confusing, but we can apply fraud to many of life’s situations, both personally and professionally. Fraud can involve basic misrepresentations about a car, real estate transaction or another similar purchase, but what if you find yourself involved with an even bigger problem? A false business deal, breach of contract, contractor fraud, security exchange, insider trading, and copyright or trademark infringement are just few serious examples of how you can be a victim of fraud.
When speaking to the topic of corporate fraud, it is interesting to note that according to a recent report by CNN, while global corporate fraud as a whole has declined, fraud committed by corporate insiders has been climbing.
Corporations need to be held accountable for their misdeeds just as we do as individuals. The ramifications of corporate fraud are that not only does it plague businesses, but it also hurts consumer trust. According to the IRS, corporate fraud is not limited to one type of company; it is committed by large and private corporations alike.
But just as corporate fraud encircles many topics, so does breach of contract, and breach of contract does not necessarily mean fraud. You may think of some of the more famous breach of contract cases involving actors or singers, but contract breaches are not just for the famous. Whenever a party fails to comply with his or her part of an employment contract for example, there is a potential for a breach of contract. If this breach was made with false intent, then it constitutes fraud.
Real estate transactions may fall under the topic of fraud as well, whether by a failure to disclose a pertinent piece of information, or by a scheme. Mortgage fraud might be performed by bankers, land developers, underwriters, appraisers, accountants or anyone involved in a transaction. The FBI estimated mortgage fraud to still be over the $10 billion dollar mark in 2010 (down from 2006’s over $25 billion dollar amount), with the top mortgage fraud states including Florida, California, Arizona, Nevada, Illinois and Michigan.
While a verdict in a criminal fraud case might result in jail time, civil fraud cases may produce some form of restitution or compensation.
In 2012 alone, statistics show that there were over 700 pending cases involving insider trading, kickbacks, tax violations, and more. Keep in mind that this number doesn’t include the thousands of cases involving mortgage fraud, health care fraud, and money laundering. These are staggering statistics for sure when you consider how these cases continue even now, long into the afterglow of Enron.
Proving these cases can be complex and tricky at times due to the many elements that are involved in proving the false intent by the defendant and the resulting harm or injury to the victim. Most courts require that you must address each of the various fraud elements when pleading your case.
Big corporations have the resources to hire teams of attorneys to handle their cases. However, you are not alone in your fight against these powerful large companies. You can be confident that The Gilbert Law Group® is here to help you navigate these complexities and fight against big corporation injustice.
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