Fraud refers to the intentional perversion of truth with intent to deprive someone of their property or other right or to somehow injure another person.

Lawyer Advertising Toll Free Numbers

Additional Sources

In law, willful misrepresentation intended to deprive another of some right. The offense, generally only a tort, may also constitute the crime of false pretenses. Frauds are either actual or constructive. An actual fraud requires that the act be motivated by the desire to deceive another to his harm, while a constructive fraud is a presumption of overreaching conduct that arises when a profit is made from a relation of trust (see fiduciary). The courts have found it undesirable to make a rigid definition of the type of misrepresentation that amounts to actual fraud and have preferred to consider individually the factors in each case. The misrepresentation may be a positive lie, a failure to disclose information, or even a statement made in reckless disregard of possible inaccuracy. Actual fraud can never be the result of accident or negligence, because of the requirement that the act be intended to deceive. The question of commission may depend upon the competence and commercial knowledge of the alleged victim. Thus dealings with a minor, a lunatic, a feeble-minded person, a drunkard, or (in former times) a married woman are scrutinized more closely than dealings with an experienced businessman. A lawsuit based upon actual or constructive fraud must specify the fraudulent act, the plaintiff's reliance on it, and the loss suffered. The remedy granted to the plaintiff in most cases is either compensatory (and possibly punitive) damages for the injury or cancellation of the contract or other agreement and the restoration of the parties to their former status. In a few states of the United States both damages and cancellation are available. In certain suits based upon a contract, fraud may be introduced as a defense.

Duhaime Legal Dictionary

Deceitful conduct designed to manipulate another person to give something of value by (1) lying, (2) by repeating something that is or ought to have been known by the fraudulent party as false or suspect or (3) by concealing a fact from the other party which may have saved that party from being cheated.

Encyclopedia Britannica

In law, the deliberate misrepresentation of fact for the purpose of depriving someone of a valuable possession. Although fraud is sometimes a crime in itself, more often it is an element of crimes such as obtaining money by false pretense or by impersonation. European legal codes and their derivatives often broadly define fraud to include not only intentional misrepresentations of fact, clearly designed to trick another into parting with valuable property, but also misunderstandings arising out of normal business transactions. Thus, any omission or concealment that is injurious to another or that allows a person to take unconscionable advantage of another may constitute criminal fraud. In Anglo-American legal systems, this latter type of fraud may be treated as deceit, subject to action in civil rather than criminal law.

A common type of criminal fraud is the obtaining of property by giving a check for which there are insufficient funds in the signer’s account. Another is the so-called confidence game, which involves not only a misrepresentation of fact but also the betrayal of confidence induced by the offender in the victim. The fraud of impersonation is the false representation by one person that he is another or that he occupies the position of another.


Any act, expression, omission, or concealment calculated to deceive another to his or her disadvantage Dictionary

n. the intentional use of deceit, a trick or some dishonest means to deprive another of his/her/its money, property or a legal right. A party who has lost something due to fraud is entitled to file a lawsuit for damages against the party acting fraudulently, and the damages may include punitive damages as a punishment or public example due to the malicious nature of the fraud. Quite often there are several persons involved in a scheme to commit fraud and each and all may be liable for the total damages. Inherent in fraud is an unjust advantage over another which injures that person or entity. It includes failing to point out a known mistake in a contract or other writing (such as a deed), or not revealing a fact which he/she has a duty to communicate, such as a survey which shows there are only 10 acres of land being purchased and not 20 as originally understood. Constructive fraud can be proved by a showing of breach of legal duty (like using the trust funds held for another in an investment in one's own business) without direct proof of fraud or fraudulent intent. Extrinsic fraud occurs when deceit is employed to keep someone from exercising a right, such as a fair trial, by hiding evidence or misleading the opposing party in a lawsuit. Since fraud is intended to employ dishonesty to deprive another of money, property or a right, it can also be a crime for which the fraudulent person(s) can be charged, tried and convicted. Borderline overreaching or taking advantage of another's naivet involving smaller amounts is often overlooked by law enforcement, which suggests the victim seek a "civil remedy" (i.e., sue). However, increasingly fraud, which has victimized a large segment of the public (even in individually small amounts), has become the target of consumer fraud divisions in the offices of district attorneys and attorneys general.

Actions or words (including failure to act or remaining silent) designed to trick or deceive a person into giving something of value, whether money, property or legal rights, to another.

Merriam Webster

: deceit, trickery; specifically : intentional perversion of truth in order to induce another to part with something of value or to surrender a legal right b : an act of deceiving or misrepresenting : trick 2 a : a person who is not what he or she pretends to be : impostor; also : one who defrauds : cheat b : one that is not what it seems or is represented to be

The Free (Legal) Dictionary

A false representation of a matter of fact—whether by words or by conduct, by false or misleading allegations, or by concealment of what should have been disclosed—that deceives and is intended to deceive another so that the individual will act upon it to her or his legal injury.

Fraud is commonly understood as dishonesty calculated for advantage. A person who is dishonest may be called a fraud. In the U.S. legal system, fraud is a specific offense with certain features.


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.