Fraud

The offence of fraud is outlined in section 380(1) of the Criminal Code.

A person commits fraud when they use deceit or false pretence to take money, property, a service or any other valuable security from a person, a business, or the public. Fraud offences are categorized based on the value of the fraud. If a person commits fraud valued at more than $5,000, they will be charged with fraud over $5,000. The penalties for this offence are more severe. If a person commits fraud valued at less than $5,000, they will be charged with fraud under $5,000 and will face less serious penalties.

Examples

Person A takes a blank cheque from person B without permission. Person A writes out the cheque to himself and forges person B’s signature, then cashes the cheque.

Person A has health benefits through their employer. Person A submits false claims for health care services they did not receive and collects money from their insurance company for those services.

Cases

R. v Elliot, [2021] ONCA 909

In R. v Elliot, the offender, the Executive Director of a non-profit agency funded through government grants, fundraising and donations, was charged with fraud over $5,000 after forging a vulnerable sector check. Previously convicted of another set of fraud charges, the offender was unable to get work in her chosen field and forged the vulnerable sector check to fraudulently gain employment.

R. v. Booker, [2021] ONCJ 625

In R. v. Booker, the offender was convicted of fraud over $5,000 after using cheques to draw money out of the Trust and General accounts of the law firm she worked for. The offender was a licensed paralegal in charge of entering debits and credits into the firms accounting program and used her position of trust to divert funds valued at just over $99,000.

Offence Specific Defence(s)

Lack of Intent

To prove that an accused has committed fraud, the Crown must prove that the accused intentionally used deceit or false pretence to defraud another party. If the accused had no intent to commit fraud, they cannot be convicted of fraud.

For example, person A purchases what they believe are authentic designer handbags from person B. Person A sells the bags, claiming they are authentic, to person C. Person C discovers the bags are knockoffs and believes person A has defrauded them. In reality, person A was tricked into believing the product was authentic. The only individual guilty of fraud in this scenario is person B who knew the handbags were knockoffs.

No Risk of Loss

To be convicted of a fraud charge, the Crown must prove that the victim suffered a loss or was at risk of suffering a loss. If there was no real risk of loss to anyone, the accused has not committed an offence but may be convicted of another.

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