Fraud 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?
The general offence of fraud captures a broad range of conduct and is criminalised under section 192E of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). 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 might include creating false receipts to claim reimbursements or refunds, or setting up a credit card in someone else’s name.
Definition of “deception” and “dishonesty”
Dishonesty is determined by the standards of the ordinary person. Deception means deceiving someone, by words or conduct, as to the true facts or law. It includes where a person:
- Deceives another as to their true intentions, or
- Causes a computer, a machine or any electronic device to make a response that the person is not authorised to make.
Categories of frauds
In addition to the general fraud offence described above, the main categories of this offence are identity fraud and forgery.
Identity fraud offences are intended to protect a person’s identity information including financial data such as credit card numbers, account details and biometric records. 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 make it an offence to make, use or possess, 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.
Fraud offences are treated seriously by the courts, and representation by an experienced fraud lawyer is recommended.
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.
The maximum penalties for specific variations of the main fraud offences are set out below.
|Intention to defraud by destroying or concealing accounting records||5 years imprisonment|
|Intention to defraud by false or misleading statement||5 years imprisonment|
|Intention to deceive members or creditors by false or misleading statement of officer of organisation||7 years imprisonment|
|Deal with identification information with intent to commit or facilitate indictable offence||10 years imprisonment|
|Possess identification information with intent to commit or facilitate indictable offence||7 years imprisonment|
|Possess equipment to make identification document or thing with intent to commit or facilitate indictable offence||3 years imprisonment|
|Make false document||10 years imprisonment|
|Use false document||10 years imprisonment|
|Possess false document||10 years imprisonment|
|Make or possess equipment for making false document forgery||10 years imprisonment|