Definition of fraud
Recorded since 1345, from Old French fraude, from Latin fraus 'deceit, injury'
fraud (plural frauds)
- Any act of deception carried out for the purpose of unfair, undeserved and/or unlawful gain.
- The assumption of a false identity to such deceptive end
- One who performs any such trick.
- (criminal) deceit
- (person) faker, fraudster, impostor, cheat(er), trickster
to fraud (third-person singular simple present frauds, present participle frauding, simple past and past participle frauded)
- (obsolete) To defraud
In the broadest sense, a fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual. The specific legal definition varies by legal jurisdiction. Fraud is a crime, and is also a civil law violation. Many hoaxes are fraudulent, although those not made for personal gain are not technically frauds. Defrauding people of money is presumably the most common type of fraud, but there have also been many fraudulent "discoveries" in art, archaeology, and science.
Elements of fraud
Common law fraud has nine elements:
- a representation of an existing fact;
- its materiality;
- its falsity;
- the speaker's knowledge of its falsity;
- the speaker's intent that it shall be acted upon by the plaintiff;
- plaintiff's ignorance of its falsity;
- plaintiff's reliance on the truth of the representation;
- plaintiff's right to rely upon it; and
- consequent damages suffered by plaintiff.
Most jurisdictions in the United States require that each element be pled with particularity and be proved with clear, cogent, and convincing evidence (very probable evidence) to establish a claim of fraud. The measure of damages in fraud cases is to be computed by the "benefit of bargain" rule, which is the difference between the value of the property had it been as represented, and its actual value. Special damages may be allowed if shown proximately caused by defendant's fraud and the damage amounts are proved with specificity.
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