A claim of fraud may be made either in Civil or Criminal proceedings. While the elements of each are similar, there are differences between the two. Civil Fraud is generally a common law claim. Criminal Fraud is usually charged pursuant to a criminal statute.

Under Virginia law, the elements of Civil Fraud are: (1) a false representation, (2) of a material fact, (3) made intentionally and knowingly, (4) with intent to mislead, (5) reliance by the party misled, and (6) resulting damage to him. A verdict in favor of a Civil Fraud provides for money damages to be paid to the damaged party.
Criminal Fraud is addressed under a variety of statutes, both federal and state, and includes charges of bank fraud, tax fraud (tax evasion), identity theft, mail fraud, wire fraud, credit card fraud and securities fraud, among other species of Criminal Fraud. Federal courts have stated that criminal fraud statutes do not incorporate all the elements of common-law fraud. For example, the criminal mail fraud statute applies to anyone who, having devised or intending to devise any scheme to defraud for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice or attempting so to do, places in any post office any matter or thing whatever to be sent or delivered by the Postal Service. By prohibiting the ”scheme to defraud,” rather than the completed fraud, the element of reliance as applied to a Civil claim is not required to complete a successful Criminal prosecution.

A general rule for Criminal Fraud may be stated as (1) a false representation, (2) of a material fact, (3) made intentionally and knowingly, (4) with intent to mislead. You must view the general rule with caution, however. Criminal Fraud is statute specific. With the numerous criminal statutes that apply to a charge of fraud, each fraud charge must be examined for its specific elements. Consult a competent criminal attorney to determine these specific elements.

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