Victim of fraud? Some useful information

Being a victim of fraud is a negative experience. Unscrupulous individuals and businesses often obey just one rule in their dealings: if you think you can get away with it, then do it.

This version of unethical business is not new, but the scams and confidence tricks associated with this bad behaviour have become more sophisticated, easier to carry out and more difficult to trace in the context of the Digital Revolution. Of course, the problem can be made worse if the lawyers trusted to obtain redress do not themselves fully understand the technology involved.

Mary Monson Solicitors have been acting in civil and criminal fraud cases for over 20 years. We have seen a wide range of types of fraud, focused around modern platforms such as iTunes, eBay, share trading platforms, gambling websites and other less tech-based frauds.

Why bring a claim for fraud?

Many people who report a fraud to the police are surprised at the lack of immediate response. The reality is that the state expects financial matters to be dealt with in the civil courts, even if a criminal offence has taken place, and police are often unwilling to investigate unless the amounts involved are huge and the route of the investigation is an easy one.

It is for this reason that a victim of fraud usually has to pursue the case through the civil process, relying on solicitors rather than police to solve the problem.

What amount is worth claiming for?

The sad reality is that not all cases are financially worth pursuing. The following factors have to be considered:

The first is that there is a £10,000 minimum claim for the legal costs of the defence to be awarded, but in reality the claim has to be worth more than even that for it to be economical to bring a claim if tracing the fraudster is an issue.

The Fraudster’s Bank – can they be sued?

In a situation where a bank has behaved negligently in allowing an individual to open a bank account, i.e. without doing proper due diligence checks before allowing a bank account to be opened, and that person has used the account to defraud another person, the bank may be liable for any losses that have followed as a result.

How should the case be approached?

The last thing a victim of fraud needs is to be faced with another huge bill unless there is a strong chance of success in the case. With that in mind, we offer a fixed-fee case assessment so that clients can properly evaluate the situation and chances of success before deciding on a path that will cost more money. If the case is more complicated, it may be appropriate to bring in a barrister (a specialist litigation lawyer) for an early opinion on prospects of recovery.

Who should be pursued and are they worth it?

Practical considerations also need to be considered as to whether an individual or company is traceable. If this is not immediately obvious, then a private investigator will need to be employed. This of course has costs implications which need to be weighed up against the potential size of the claim. It is also necessary to consider whether the individual has assets which can satisfy the claim if an order is made. In certain circumstances, where the individual being sued is likely to hide or remove those assets, the claimant can have them frozen.

Bringing a claim against someone outside the UK

If the person is not in the UK, then suing him or her may not be easy unless there are assets in the UK or in a country which has a treaty with the UK which allows enforcement of UK judgments in that country. These countries include most EU countries with the exception of some accession states.