New York residents and others who lost something of value because of another person’s false or misleading statements could be considered victims of fraud. A fraud victim may bring a civil lawsuit against the person who engaged in deceptive activity, and a government prosecutor may bring criminal charges against a person who acted in a fraudulent manner. In a civil suit, a plaintiff only has to prove that it was more likely than not that an act occurred.
A defendant in a civil suit will incur monetary damages or other civil penalties. However, those who are convicted in a criminal fraud case could spend time in jail or on probation. In a criminal trial, a prosecutor must prove that a person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Examples of fraud could include identity theft, mail fraud or tax evasion.
To rise to the level of fraud, a person must knowingly represent a material fact that is false to a victim. The victim must then suffer a financial loss because he or she took action based on what he or she considered to be reasonably accurate information. Those who are victims of fraud are encouraged to tell authorities about their experiences. While they may be ashamed to admit that they were scammed, talking about what happened could prevent others from becoming victims as well.
Those who are charged with committing crimes such as mail fraud may be sentenced to jail or prison time. They may also be prohibited from working in the financial industry or from taking other actions by government regulators. An attorney may be able to help an individual avoid some or all penalties that he or she faces. This might be done by having evidence suppressed before a trial.