Commencing civil court action in fraud cases

Fraud can be described as any deceitful or intentionally dishonest conduct, either orally or in writing, involving acts or omissions or making false statements.  The objective of such conduct must be to obtain money or other benefits from a person either for themselves or for another, or evading a debt. Intent is critical with regard to deception. Intent makes the difference between deception and an honest mistake.

Defrauding people of money is the most common type of fraud.

Under sec. 82 of the Crimes Act 1958 (VIC), a person who by any deception dishonestly obtains for himself or another any financial advantage is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for 10 years maximum.

If you believe you are the victim of fraud, you should first report the matter to the police.  The police will make an assessment to determine whether the matter is criminal in nature.  If the information provided supports a finding that a criminal offence may have been committed, the police will investigate the matter further.

In many instances of alleged fraud, it turns out that the complaint is civil.  This is particularly true of incidents involving breaches of contract or non-payment of debts.  Police do not investigate civil matters and are unable to become involved with debt collection.

Victoria Police advise that in the event you have suffered a financial loss and wish to seek recovery or compensation, you are advised to take immediate civil action, as it may not be until the end of a successful criminal prosecution that the Court is able to award compensation. However, criminal prosecutions for fraud can take years to complete.

Consequently, even if the matter is being investigated by the police, you should still consider taking civil action in the courts against the perpetrator of the fraud at the same time, in order to recover your money or property.

Allegations of fraud should not be made lightly.  Allegations of criminality, fraud, or serious wrongdoing must be alleged with precision and sufficient supporting facts.  The rules of Court require that particulars be given of any fraudulent intention that is alleged.

For specific information on how ALFA Lawyers can assist you in recovering your money or property in a fraud matter, please see our Fraud Recoveries page.  Or, if you would like to make an appointment to discuss your fraud matter with ALFA Lawyers, please see our Contact page.