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Last updated: 11 November 2021

What is fraud?

Fraud is an act of deception intended for personal gain or to cause a loss to another party.

It is described within the Fraud Act 2006 (England and Wales) as:   

Any dishonest:

  • False representation
  • Failure to declare information or
  • Abuse of position

Which is intended:

  • To make gain (personally or for another)
  • Cause loss or expose another to the risk of loss

Fraud offences are not exclusive, and a fraudulent action can fall within more than one offence. For example, an officer submitting false claims for overtime is both a false representation and an abuse of position. It is also false accounting (Section 17, Theft Act 1968).

The first three offences within the Fraud Act 2006 are offender focused. This means, the actual fraud (i.e. the gain/ loss) does not have to have taken place for a prosecution to be brought, if the intention to defraud can be proved.        

On conviction of fraud the maximum sentence can be up to ten years in prison and or a fine.