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Home Resources & Technical Articles Criminal Offence Topics (A to Z) Fraud Offences Fraud Offences and Penalties in Western Australia (WA)

Fraud Offences and Penalties in Western Australia (WA)

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Using deception, dishonestly, and lying to obtain a financial or a personal advantage over another person is known as Fraud.

Under the fraud category, there come multitudes of offences. Often the victim of the fraud offence is unaware that they have been dodged and are the victim of Fraud. Fraud is different from blackmail. It typically involves gaining an advantage, either financial or personal advantage, by being dishonest or by lying.

Very few fraud cases are reported in Western Australia. Most of the fraud cases go unnoticed due to some personal reasons of the victims or due to the lack of evidence to prosecute.

Fraud under the Criminal Code Act

In Western Australia, Fraud is considered a general offence and is recognised under Section 409 of the Criminal Code Act Compilation Act 1913 (WA).

Common fraud offences in Western Australia

There are several types of frauds in Western Australia which are recognised by law. The most common include that where a person has the intention by deceit or any other conduct of Fraud to defraud someone.

It includes the following;

It includes a person who is responsible for delivering property to another person.

  • To gain any benefit for any person
  • A detriment caused to any person
  • A lawful act which one is entitled to refrain from is induced to a person for doing it.
  • A lawful act which one is entitled to do is induced to prevent a person from not doing it.

To some extent, there is a crossover between stealing offences and fraud offences.

Fraud example:

A common example of Fraud is when a person obtains a property that belongs to another person by any dishonest means or deceit, intending to defraud. It includes something to which the fraudster is not entitled, for example, using another person's credit card, Centrelink benefits of another person, or for financial gain identity details of another person.

Here obtaining the property doesn't necessarily mean owning the property. It just means to acquire it or possess the property by any means.

Section 409 of the Criminal Code Act Compilation Act 1913 (WA):

According to the Act;

  1. Any person with the intentions to defraud others by any fraudulent means or deceit,
    1. Obtains another person’s property.
    2. It also includes a person who delivers property to another person.
    3. Any person gains a benefit,
    4. To any person, if one causes a detriment or pecuniary.
    5. It includes the inducement of a person towards the fulfillment of any act to which the person is lawfully entitled to abstain from that act.
    6. It also includes the inducement of a person towards abstaining from any act which the person is lawfully entitled to fulfill.

Penalties for Fraud in Western Australia

According to the Criminal Code Act, the penalty for Fraud in Western Australia is generally seven years of imprisonment, but in some cases, if the person deceived is of the age of 60 or over 60 years. The maximum penalty for Fraud increases up to 10 years of imprisonment. And compensation for the amount of money lost in the Fraud.

Summary Penalties for Fraud

Cases of Fraud that are determined to be not too serious are dealt with summarily in Western Australia. This means that these cases are dealt with in the Magistrate court and not the District court. Moreover, a lower maximum penalty applies to such cases.

When a charge is dealt with summarily, the maximum penalty is a $24,000 fine or two years of imprisonment. If the deceived person is 60 or older, the penalty increases to up to a $36,000 fine and three years of imprisonment.

If the property or detriment, or benefit whose value is more than $10,000 is involved, then the case cannot be dealt with summarily.

Intention to defraud

To be found guilty of Fraud in Western Australia, the primary requirement of the law requires a person to have acted with an intention to defraud. It means that the offender has in actual meaning acted with the intent of dishonest behavior.

The court conducts a subjective test. In the test, the court looks into the case so that what the accused person's intentions were and not what a typical person might have intended in the same situation.

The offence of Fraud applies to all those cases in which the commercial flavor is included, which means that the intention of deceiving the victim consists of or relates to the economic interest or the public duties of the victim. The acts where a person is intended to refrain or to order the victim in doing something which is lawfully recognised and do not include commercial flavor, then such actions do not come in the category of Fraud. They only deal with social relationships and not economic interests.

The main requirement of the intention to defraud limits only to the offences related to the economic interests of the victim and or public duty. It also includes the dishonest inducement of a person not to do any act or do an activity. Such actions which do not include economic interests have not amounted to Fraud.

Possible Defences

There exist defences in response to the fraud offence in Western Australia. The defences which are the most common concerning the fraud charges in Western Australia are the following,

  • The honest claim of the right under Section 22 of the Criminal Code Act
  • Mistake of the fact under Section 24 of the Criminal Code Act

The honest claim of right:

The honest claim of right rises when someone is charged with the offence of Fraud for something which is done concerning the property, and the accused can prove that they were acting solely in honest belief and that they had a natural right to this specific property, and that they do not have any intention to defraud.

The honest claim of right is a complete defence. Thus, proving this legitimate claim of right will not be found guilty of Fraud.

Mistake of fact:

The mistake of fact is the act of occurrence when a person does not act under a reasonable and honest belief about anything, but then it turns out to be mistaken. In this type of defence, the court will judge a person, and it is not a complete defence. The person will be considered in a way that, as the thoughts were true, they will not be held criminally responsible for the acts, up to any greater extent than they would have been if these facts were actual.

However, apart from these defences, further legal advice is suggested at different stages.

Effects of fraud on Victims

Fraud is a personal violation. The emotional consequences of violent crimes and that of Fraud resemble too much. However, the wounds of Fraud are not visible. The effects of those crimes can vary; the results of the Fraud can lead to some common reactions;

  • Self-Blame

People blame themselves for how they could be deceived so easily.

  • Shame or embarrassment

People feel shame and embarrassment that their family will consider them foolish by reporting their fraud case.

  • Guilt

The entire family savings are sometimes lost, so people feel guilty about losing the savings.

  • Isolation

People do not want to know other people of their fraud stories; they want to handle things on their own and keep them a secret to themselves.

  • Anger

Victims are angry at themselves for causing harm to their families and for being victims to the offenders.

  • Disbelief

People have disbelief that it happened, and they deny accepting the truth.

  • Betrayal

The trust you have in yourself and others is shattered, and you get into a feeling of betrayal.

Do Fraud offences show up on a national police record check in the state of Western Australia (WA)?

Where an individual is convicted for a Fraud offence, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on their Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check certificate.

You can obtain your Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check online via the Australian National Character Check - ANCC® website.

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