There are generally 3 legal routes you can take if you have been the victim of fraud.
1. You can do nothing at all
On many occasions, I learn of people who were the victims of fraud, who did or said nothing because they felt silly or stupid for being conned. They were ashamed to admit that as successful business people who know better. By saying and doing nothing, you allow others to become the victims of fraud. You allow the cancer of crime to take its hold on innocent law-abiding people.
2. You can consider Civil Proceedings against the fraudster:
This can be expensive. You need to consider many things, before you take such action:
Do you know who they are, where they live, or whether they have any money or assets?
If you do not know who they are, whey live, or whether they have any money, then this is not the route to take.
If you know who they are, and where they live, but not whether they have any money or assets, it may be sensible to commission an investigation to consider this, before taking any further steps.
Civil Proceedings for fraud can take many avenues.
If you know they have funds, but they may be moving them elsewhere, you will want to consider a Freezing Injunction, previously known as a Mareva Injunction. It is something that needs to be done when you have reasonable grounds to believe that something is amiss. Work is time-sensitive. It is a short-term resolution to stopping funds from being moved or transferred and is not effective until Financial Institutions and Banks are served with it. Work is considerable, and labour intensive. A full Witness Statement needs to be drafted, exhibiting what evidence there is to believe something is wrong. A Claim Form and Particulars of Claim need to be drafted, together with an application notice, and the wording of the Freezing Injunction. Costs of taking such action are not insignificant.
If you know they are holding onto key documentation, objects, computers, electronic storage equipment, articles of importance, you will want to consider a Seizure Injunction, formerly known as an Anton Piller Injunction. Again, there is similar work, time-pressure, and costs involved, like with the Mareva.
If you are in possession of the evidence, and money is not moving anywhere (i.e. you have appropriate undertakings for assets, or property to be preserved), then you would apply on Notice for an Injunction and make a claim for civil fraud.
Costs of Civil Proceedings are significant and each case attracts its own time estimate of costs. You should still consider this as an option, because time-wise you are likely to obtain a faster result than to go through the criminal proceedings route.
What do you have to prove to bring civil Proceedings v criminal Proceedings, for fraud?
To start with, if you are bringing case of Fraud or Deception against another party, the onus is upon you to prove your case.
A Civil case requires that you prove your case on a balance of probabilities. A criminal case requires that you prove your case beyond reasonable doubt. A civil case, where there is fraud/deception involved, is a more serious case which requires a test of more than a balance of probabilities, but less than beyond reasonable doubt.
3. You can report the matter to the Police
There has been much frustration from my clients and potential clients that reporting to the Local Police Station takes time. Usually the person you talk to, does not fully understand the type of crime, and delays inevitably occur.
In conjunction with the City of London Police, the National Fraud Authority has launched a very helpful initiative to report such fraud more efficiently to ACTION FRAUD. I can do no better than to refer you to their website .
It remains to be seen whether this initiative will speed matters up, but I sincerely hope that it does. It is certainly a welcome step in the right direction for Police Forces to share more readily information Nationally, and various Multi-National Companies have bought into the concept. There is a dedicated number to ring.
4. You could take out a Private Prosecution
This requires very careful consideration. You would have the same options available to you, but it would be at your cost. It is likely to be quicker to proceed to Court, but you will lack the resources that the Police have of levels of expertise and speciality to collect and preserve evidence.
David Rosen is a Solicitor-Advocate, Partner and head of Litigation at Darlingtons. He is a Certified Fraud Examiner with the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, a member of the Fraud Advisory Panel, and a member of the Proceeds of Crime Lawyer’s Association. He is also a visiting associate Professor of Law at Brunel University.
Haven't found what you need yet?
Why not search the whole site?