Fraud and Dishonesty Offences

Fraud and dishonesty offences can arise out of a wide variety of conduct. Generally, fraud involves doing something to someone, that is dishonest, to obtain an advantage or cause a detriment. Whether a person will be guilty of an offence will always depend upon the context in which the conduct occurred.

Common dishonesty offences include:

  • theft;
  • fraud;
  • money laundering;
  • bribery and corruption;
  • making false or misleading statements;
  • dishonest use of position and corporate fraud;
  • embezzlement;
  • online (cyber) crime;
  • credit card fraud;
  • organised investment fraud (such as boiler room activities);
  • taxation and GST fraud; and
  • social security fraud.

The meaning of fraud for the purposes of fraud charges

Usually a fraud charge involves ‘applying’ the property of another person for one’s own benefit in a dishonest way. In the context of a fraud charge, the term ‘applied’ means the taking or using of another person’s property for your own purposes. This must have been done both intentionally and dishonestly.

‘Property’ has a wide definition in fraud cases and includes not only physical property, such as money or buildings, but also everything animate or inanimate that is capable of being the subject of ownership, such as energy, credit, stocks, animals, and plants.

Who investigates fraud and dishonesty offences?

Fraud cases can range from the simplest of matters to very complex and high-value international transactions. Fraud and dishonesty offences are investigated by a range of different agencies, including the Queensland Police Service, Australian Federal Police, Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC), Australian Taxation Office (ATO), and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). If you are contacted by any of these agencies, you should call one of our experienced criminal lawyers immediately.

Trials and penalties for charges of fraud and dishonesty

Trials involving offences of fraud can be lengthy and complex. Often, the prosecution engages the services of a forensic accountant to prepare reports detailing transactions said to have constituted the fraud. It may be necessary, as part of your legal defence, to engage an independent forensic accountant to prepare a report disputing or qualifying the prosecution expert’s opinion.

Fraud and dishonesty offences and in particular, white collar crime, are considered by the court to be serious matters and penalties can be severe, including significant fines and imprisonment. In fraud cases, one of the most significant factors, when the court comes to decide the sentence, is the ‘quantum’ or value of the fraud. 

In recent times, authorities have demonstrated an increased focus on financial and white-collar crime. We have acted for accountants, financial planners, solicitors and other professionals who have been charged with various fraud offences. If the authorities contact you, or if you have any concerns about fraud investigations, we recommend you call our office for advice before providing information to any authorities.