Scam And Fraud

Fraud & Financial Offences

The Crown Prosecution Service prosecutes thousands of cases of fraud every year in the United Kingdom. Fraud covers a wide range of allegations but the offence, considered a “white collar crime”, is fundamentally concerned with dishonestly gaining an advantage, usually financial, over another person. Increasingly the offence is cyber-related.

The number of individuals and companies being questioned and investigated about fraud or financial offences has increased as the police and investigative authorities such as the Financial Conduct Authority have been granted more powers.

The main fraud offences are contained in the Fraud Act 2006 and the Theft Act 1968. Common examples of fraud and financial offences are:

  • Tax evasion
  • Benefit fraud
  • Money laundering
  • Online fraud
  • Identity fraud
  • Banking or investment fraud
  • Bribery and corruption
  • Election fraud
  • Fraud by abuse of position

There are numerous crimes associated with dishonesty offences, many of which people may not even consider, for example, evading a fare on the railway.

The court takes fraud and financial offences seriously, so it is important to ensure your interests are protected by obtaining professional advice from a criminal defence lawyer. Experienced legal experts can help you through the evidence-gathering process and minimize the risk to your reputation and help you achieve the best possible outcome.

What are the defences and what are the penalties?

If you have been charged with fraud, the first thing you will think about is how to defend yourself. Fraud cases can be extremely complex, and it is likely you will feel stressed. It is important that you contact a solicitor who will help prepare a robust defence on your behalf. The Prosecution need to prove that it was you, and not someone else, who committed the offence. They will need to prove that the alleged offence did take place and that the activity was undertaken dishonestly.

Defences are a complicated aspect of criminal law, but your solicitor will be able to discuss with which defence may apply to your case. The most common defence is that there was no element of dishonesty about the actions, so for example any errors in a tax return were made by mistake and not deliberately. Other examples include that you were acting under duress or intoxication; or you were unaware of your actions when committing the offence. A successful defence may lead to a total acquittal or a lesser sentence.

The main fraud offences are punishable by up to ten years imprisonment and/or a fine. If you have been charged with fraud, as with all criminal proceedings, there is a rebuttable presumption in favour of bail, and you will be released from custody until your first court hearing, or your trial begins. If you are found guilty of fraud in a one-off case, you may receive a community-based sentence, but this will depend on the financial gain associated with the fraud.

What to expect if you are investigated and what evidence is required

Because the Prosecution need to prove that an illegal act happened and that you are the perpetrator, beyond all reasonable doubt, it is likely that it will require a large amount of direct evidence. If the fraud involves the internet, the Prosecution is likely to request your laptop and mobile phone and will attempt to access any documents stored in the cloud. Complex investigations can be very lengthy, and this may impact your personal or professional life.

Having a criminal record has serious repercussions – it can prevent you from accessing credit or finding employment. We have been providing services to individuals and businesses in Liverpool and across the North West for over 25 years and have built a solid reputation on our ability to offer strong and effective legal representation in and out of the courtroom.
If you need help, contact [email protected] or call 0151 239 1020 for expert legal advice.