What Is Fraud?
Stories of corporate fraud, Ponzi schemes, and white-collar crime are frequently in the headlines, and commonly the subject of blockbuster films, but what does it actually mean to commit fraud? According to the Criminal Code, Fraud is committed when a person "by deceit, falsehood or other fraudulent means, whether or not it is a false pretence 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." The Criminal Code does not define fraud any further than this.
Fraud offences have become increasingly common as banking and commerce continue to expand online. Fraud charges are therefore taken very seriously by the police and prosecution and can lead to serious consequences. Fraud charges may involve lengthy, stressful, and time consuming court proceedings in the Ontario Court of Justice and Superior Court of Justice. Your employment may also be in jeopardy as many employers have policies against hiring or continuing to employ someone with a Fraud conviction. It is imperative that professional legal counsel be sought at the outset to deal with these charges. Even individuals who are not the architects of fraudulent schemes can be charged and prosecuted. Anyone who is seen by the police or the Crown Attorney to assist a fraud scheme in any way can be charged and convicted as a party to the offence.
These cases can be extremely complex and can include voluminous disclosure from the Crown. Many cases involve issues such as breaches of trust and can be in such contexts as employment, families, mortgages, tax, etc. Convictions for larger fraud cases can result in significant jail sentences or highly restrictive conditional sentences. They require a criminal defence lawyer with experience, persistence and determination.