Fraud Charges NSWFraud offences involve a use of deception or dishonesty to obtain an unjust advantage, often at the expense of another person. The general offence of “fraud” covers most situations, but there are also specialised types of fraud offences.

Fraud includes conduct that could also be seen as theft or stealing. However, stealing offences usually target the taking and carrying away of physical property, while fraud charges often involve the use of computers and technology to unlawfully obtain intangible property.


What is fraud?

In NSW, section 192E of the Crimes Act 1900 criminalises the general offence of fraud. This section captures a broad range of conduct. Fraud can be charged where a person:

  • By any deception or dishonestly,
  • Obtains property belonging to another, or
  • Obtains any financial advantage or causes any financial disadvantage.

Examples of fraud include:

  • Internet fraud (also known as cyber fraud) – e.g. sending someone a fraudulent email pretending to be a reputable company and asking the person to provide their credit card details.
  • Bank fraud – e.g. using someone else’s bank details to log into their bank account and steal money, or impersonating a bank to steal people’s details.
  • Credit card fraud – e.g. using another person’s credit card to purchase items without their consent.
  • Workplace fraud – e.g. an employee of a company creating false receipts/invoices to get reimbursed from the company.
  • Insurance fraud – e.g. filing a false insurance claim or exaggerating damages, injuries or losses, to receive benefits from an insurer.


Commonwealth fraud offences

The Criminal Code Act 1995 criminalises fraud at the Commonwealth level. Fraud is also criminalised in other Commonwealth legislation such as the Taxation Administration Act 1953 and the Corporations Act 2001, to capture specific or complex types of fraud that are relevant to the specific legislation.

Examples of Commonwealth fraud offences include:

  • Tax fraud – e.g. failing to declare income, or providing falsified accounting records to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
  • Investment fraud – e.g. creating a fake investment opportunity to steal money from individuals.
  • Corporate fraud – e.g. altering a company’s financial records to make it seem more profitable or valuable.


Categories of frauds

In addition to the general fraud offence described above, the main categories of fraud are identity fraud, forgery, and corporate fraud.


Identity fraud

Identity fraud involves using a person’s identity information including financial data such as credit card numbers, account details and biometric records, to commit fraud. Part 4AB of the Crimes Act criminalises conduct whereby a person who, with the intention of committing or facilitating an indictable offence:

  • Possesses identification documents.
  • Deals with identification documents.
  • Possesses the equipment to make identification documents.



Forgery offences under part 5 of the Crimes Act criminalise the production, use or possession of a false document for the purpose of obtaining a financial advantage or influencing the exercise of a public duty. A relevant document might include a bank statement or passport.


Corporate fraud

Corporate fraud is a common type of white collar crime which involves offences conducted by a company, or an individual acting on behalf of a company. Corporate fraud is primarily regulated by the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) and the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth), and therefore is usually investigated and prosecuted at a Federal level.

The Corporations Act and Criminal Code Act criminalise a number of offences that are considered corporate fraud. These offences include:

  • Market misconduct, which incudes intentionally making false or misleading statements in relation to financial products such as stocks, bonds and loans (including securities).
  • Falsifying information on a tax return to hide income, or to receive benefits from the ATO.
  • Falsifying financial statements to hide the giving or receiving of illegitimate payments, which can include payment of bribes.

Under the Criminal Code Act, the individual who acted on behalf of the corporation is likely to be found criminally liable for committing these type of offences. However, for certain offences, the corporation itself can also be liable and penalised.



Fraud offences are treated seriously by the courts, and representation by an experienced fraud lawyer is recommended.

In NSW, the maximum penalty for fraud under section 192E is 10 years’ imprisonment, and people found guilty of this crime often receive a prison sentence.

If the matter is heard in the Local Court, the maximum penalty is two years’ imprisonment and penalties often include a fine, Community Corrections Order or Intensive Correction Order. Learn more about the types of penalties available.

At the Commonwealth level, the maximum penalty for fraud under the Criminal Code Act is 10 years’ imprisonment. Other Commonwealth legislation capturing fraud may have different penalties, such as the Corporations Act which has a maximum penalty of 15 years’ imprisonment.

The maximum penalties for specific variations of the main fraud offences are set out below.


General fraud

OffenceMaximum sentence
Intention to defraud by destroying or concealing accounting records5 years' imprisonment
Intention to defraud by false or misleading statement5 years' imprisonment
Intention to deceive members or creditors by false or misleading statement of officer of organisation7 years' imprisonment


Identity fraud

OffenceMaximum sentence
Deal with identification information with intent to commit or facilitate indictable offence10 years' imprisonment
Possess identification information with intent to commit or facilitate indictable offence7 years' imprisonment
Possess equipment to make identification document or thing with intent to commit or facilitate indictable offence3 years' imprisonment



OffenceMaximum sentence
Make false document10 years' imprisonment
Use false document10 years' imprisonment
Possess false document10 years' imprisonment
Make or possess equipment for making false document forgery10 years' imprisonment


Corporate fraud

OffenceMaximum sentence
False or Misleading Statements in Respect of Financial Product (Corporations Act 2001)15 years’ imprisonment
Falsifying information on a tax return to hide its income or receive benefits from the ATO (Taxation Administration Act 1953)10 years’ imprisonment
Falsifying financial statements (Corporations Act 2001)2 years’ imprisonment


Fraud lawyers in Sydney

Facing fraud charges can be extremely daunting. A criminal conviction can impact your future, including employment prospects and travel opportunities. Finding a fraud lawyer in Sydney to represent and advise you is therefore an important decision, and not one to be taken lightly.

Nyman Gibson Miralis is highly experienced in defending all types of fraud charges, including general fraud, identity fraud, forgery, and corporate fraud, and we have a proven track record of getting outstanding results. While our fraud lawyers are based in Sydney, we represent clients in all courts throughout NSW and the ACT.

If you are facing fraud charges in NSW, it is important to get expert legal advice as soon as possible to ensure that you get the best outcome. Our fraud lawyers in Sydney provide a free initial consultation where we will listen to your side of the story and discuss the matter in detail, including available defence strategies and the relevant court procedures.

You can call us 24/7 on 1300 668 484 to speak with an experienced fraud lawyer or book a free consultation online.


Frequently Asked Questions

In which court will fraud charges be heard in NSW?

Fraud and forgery offences will ordinarily be dealt with in the Local Court. In rare circumstances, they may be heard in the District Court, but this would usually only occur if a defendant is also charged with further more serious offences that must be dealt with by the District Court.

How will the court decide my sentence?

The court will consider several factors in determining the objective seriousness of a fraud offence and the severity of the sentence:

  • The amount of money involved: This indicates the extent to which the person is willing to be dishonest and flout the law to advance their own purposes.
  • The length of time over which the offences were committed: This can indicate the degree of planning and show that it was not an impulsive offence.
  • The motive for the crime:  If the fraud is based on greed, the sentence imposed will likely be more severe. However, if the offence was committed for another reason such as paying a family member’s medical bills, this will not necessarily result in a lenient sentence.
  • The degree of planning and sophistication: This refers to whether the offence was committed as part of a planned or organised activity, rather than on impulse.
  • Breach of trust: The breach of trust must be in direct contravention of what the offender was engaged to do. Typically, the victim of the offence has imposed that trust on the offender, such as an employer defrauded by an employee.

The sentencing judge or magistrate will also consider the issue of general deterrence, that is, the need to discourage others within the community from committing such offences, often by imposing a lengthy prison sentence. They may also consider a personal deterrence to discourage the offender from repeating their crime.

Can fraud be unintentional?

Deception can be committed intentionally or recklessly. This includes where the accused foresaw the possibility of the victim being deceived but continued with the conduct anyway. You cannot be guilty of fraud if the deception was genuinely unintentional and unforeseen.

Can I be charged with attempted fraud?

There is no specific offence of attempted fraud. Yet, under section 162 of the Criminal Procedure Act 1986, a person who attempts to commit an indictable offence, with intent, is liable to punishment.

Conviction for an attempted offence requires the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused intended to commit the crime. This can be difficult to prove if the crime was unsuccessful.

Attempted fraud could also be charged as:

  • “Intention to defraud by destroying or concealing account records” or,
  • “Make false document.”

These crimes also involve deception or dishonesty but don’t require the prosecution to prove that any advantage was obtained or intended.

Can I get bail for a fraud offence?

Though there is no presumption against bail for fraud offences, your fraud defence lawyer will need to show that there is no “unacceptable risk” if you are released. In determining whether there is an unacceptable risk, the court will consider the likelihood that you will:

  • Fail to appear in court (are you “a flight risk”?).
  • Commit a serious offence.
  • Endanger the safety of victims, individuals or the community.
  • Interfere with witnesses or evidence.

You may be considered a flight risk if it was alleged that you used false identification documents to commit the offence or there is unrecovered money from the alleged fraud offence. In these cases, bail may be harder to obtain.

Contact a fraud lawyer in Sydney

Our fraud lawyers in Sydney are experienced in successfully defending fraud charges throughout NSW.

Book a consultation or call us on 1300 668 484 for 24/7 legal advice.