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  • Home Resources & Technical Articles Criminal Offence Topics (A to Z) Fraud Offences Fraud and Deception - Offences and Penalties in the Northern Territory (NT)

    Fraud and Deception - Offences and Penalties in the Northern Territory (NT)

    There are lots of offences related to Fraud in the Northern Territory. They are detailed in Section 227 of the Criminal Code Act 1983 (NT) as well as the Criminal Code Amendment (Theft, Fraud, Bribery and Related Offences) Act 2000 (NT).

    Fraud offences in the Northern Territory fall under two main components. And a person will be guilty of a fraud offence if they;

    • Obtain or appropriate another's for some benefits.
    • The offender used deceptive means to appropriate such property.

    Under the Act, the offence of stealing in the NT and Fraud by deceptive means carry the same penalties.

    In this context, a person obtains property if they assume rights or control over the property reserved for the legal owners.

    If you are convicted in an NT court for a fraud offence, the offence will be disclosed in your national criminal history check in the NT and will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO). The offence is disclosed in accordance with NT’s Spent Convictions Scheme.

    Who is the owner of a property under the Act?

    • Where a person receives properties on behalf of another,
    • A property held in trust belongs to the original person to whom it is directed or issued. It includes any person having a right to enforce the trust.

    An intention to defeat the trust is considered a fraudulent act of the property of any person having that right.

    Which Court handles a stealing offence?

    Under the Criminal Code in the NT, all criminal appropriation offences are indictable offences. However, with the consent of both prosecutor and defendant, it may proceed summarily to the Magistrate/Local court.

    The maximum penalty for a single charge of stealing offence at the Local Court is a two-year imprisonment term.

    Whether the defence or the prosecution elects to have the matter heard on indictment, it must be committed to the supreme and finalised there.

    What is the penalty of a fraud offence in the Northern Territory?

    If the matter is presented before a higher court (as an indictable offence), the judge can issue penalties of up to 7 years imprisonment. However, the Court may impose higher fines for fraud cases with cases of aggravation.

    Fraud offences of Inducing a person to act

    If a person for the intent of a financial gain or similar gains uses deceptive means causes a person to act, they will be found guilty of a fraud offence.

    Inducing a person to act can include a lot of circumstances, including;

    • Supplying wrong information,
    • Manipulating a person with false records,
    • Releasing a misleading statement, especially from a place of authority.
    • And all other means to make a person take an action that will cause them loss.

    If the Court finds a person guilty of any such charge, it can impose penalties of up to 7 years imprisonment.

    Blackmail and Extortion in the NT

    Offences of blackmail are usually charges for fraud-related offences or violations in the NT. The offence of blackmail involves;

    • Insisting a demand with menace or intent to obtain some benefits for themselves, or
    • Cause a sort of damage or loss to another through such actions.

    If the Court finds a person guilty of such offences, they can prescribe penalties up to 14 years imprisonment.

    For such offences, it can be a defence to the charge if the accused can prove that such demands were;

    • Reasonable and for a greater good.

    Identity Crimes

    Under Section 228C of the Criminal Code Act 1983 (NT), a person is guilty of a fraud offence if they;

    • Deal illegally with information on an Identity document, and;
    • They commit such acts with the intent to commit such offence or facilitate the commission of the crime.

    For this context, an Identity document is;

    Any legal document or material that;

    • Contains identification and personal information, and,
    • Is used to gain pass or admission to a hidden system,
    • May be used illegally to impersonate a person.

    I.D. information can identify the owner or someone with legitimate access. It includes document the supply information like;

    • ✔ Names, addresses, D.O.B.,
    • ✔ Marital status and roles,
    • ✔ Relatives of a person,
    • ✔ Driver’s license,
    • ✔ Passport or passport number,
    • ✔ Biometric data,
    • ✔ Financial account number
    • ✔ Digital signature,
    • ✔ And all other relevant information.

    Illegally possessing an identification document

    It is an offence in the NT to be found with false information or Identity documents to commit Fraud.

    It is immaterial that the victim consents to the possession of the identity information. Any person found guilty of such offences is liable to a 3-years imprisonment term.

    Possessing the equipment used for such I.D. falsification.

    A person is considered guilty of an I.D. fraud and related offence if it is proved that they held/kept some of the equipment for I.D. falsifications.

    If the person commits such offences to gain an unfair advantage, the Court can punish up to 3 years imprisonment.

    Alternative verdicts for offenders in the Northern Territory

    The Court can convict a person of an alternative offence if they are not satisfied that the accused was guilty of the original charge.

    For example, the Court can convict a person of fraud offence instead of a stealing or theft offence in the NT if they are satisfied with the evidence indicating the person of a fraud offence.

    The definition and rules of Alternative verdicts are under Section 228F of the NT Criminal Code Act 1983.

    Receiving after a change of ownership

    A person is not guilty of an offence if they lawfully obtained/received, or exchanged a property obtained fraudulently. It follows that there must be a lawful exchange of title of ownership of such property before the person accepts such property.

    Even if they know/believe that the ownership history came through acts that are indictable offences under the law, they are not guilty of illegally obtaining the property.

    Receiving stolen property

    A person is guilty of receiving a property obtained through an indictable violation (stealing/robbery/fraud). It also includes purchasing a stolen item where you know the item is stolen,

    It also includes receiving properties or proceeds of an indictable offence. Or similar indictable actions outside the Territory, an indictable crime in the NT.

    The criminal code stipulates the following penalties for such violation;

    Seven years imprisonment (14 years if the value is more than $100,000).

    Money Laundering

    Section 231B of the Act describes offences of money laundering involves where a person corruptly, illegally, intentionally, and dishonestly;

    • ✔ Receives or controls money/proceeds from an indictable offence,
    • ✔ Conceals or attempts to hide the money,
    • ✔ Helps to transfers and secure such properties,
    • ✔ Deals with the money in any other way.

    The offence of money laundering in the NT is punished with up to 20 years imprisonment.

    Other Types of fraud offences include;

    • Dealing with suspicious property (s 231D)
    • Frauds by corporations; against employees, the organisation and customers, (Div 4)
    • Publishing false statements (Div 4 s 234)
    • Suppression of legal documents (Div 4 235)
    • Dealing with property used in connection with the offences
    • False accounting (Div 4 s 233)

    For such offences, the NT Court can impose penalties up to a seven years imprisonment term.

    Do Fraud offences appear on a national criminal history check in the Northern Territory?

    If you are convicted in an NT court for a Fraud offence, the offence will show up on a national criminal history check result and will be disclosed on the check in accordance with the Spent Convictions Scheme. You can obtain your criminal record check online via the Australian National Character Check - ANCC® website.

    Sources

    Criminal Code Amendment (Theft, Fraud, Bribery and Related Offences) Act 2000 (NT) - https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2004A00730

    Criminal Code Act 1983 (NT) - https://legislation.nt.gov.au/en/Legislation/CRIMINAL-CODE-ACT-1983

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