*This article is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice.

In a court of law, terms that seem familiar to the general public take on new meanings. Such is the case of terms like “fraud.” While one person may use this term to mock someone’s level of honesty, the implications of fraud are far more serious in a legal setting. They are also more complex.

If you perform a criminal records check on PeopleFinders, you may come across the term “fraud” in your report. If you do, make sure you dig deeper for the context in which the term is used.

What is Fraud?

Fraud is a process some individuals use against another person or institution. During this process, the instigator will intentionally deceive another party for their personal or financial gain. It is the lying that defines the practice of fraud, even though there are multiple variations on the process. No matter what, the person who instigates a fraudulent exchange intends to purposefully mislead another party. What makes this a crime is the involvement of money, property or other investments. When one person deceives another and uses that deception to get something in return, they can be brought before the court under the charge of fraud.

What Are the Different Types of Fraud?

As mentioned, there are several different types of fraud. These include:

  • Identity Theft – One person may steal another’s Social Security number to make purchases in that person’s name, escape criminal convictions in other countries, or otherwise dissociate themselves from their true identity.
  • Insurance Fraud – Insurance fraud, whether it involves a home, vehicle or other form of property, sees one party padding an insurance claim to earn more compensation from an insurance provider. Insurance fraud breaks down into two additional categories: soft fraud and hard fraud. Soft fraud sees a person pad an insurance claim for more money. Hard fraud sees a person stage an accident to receive compensation for their losses.
  • Mail Fraud – Mail fraud involves one party mailing false contracts, receipts, or other communications to another party with the intent of using those forms to steal money, property or other possessions from the receiver.
  • Credit/Debit Card Fraud – When one person misuses the credit or debit card information of another to make purchases without the other person’s knowledge, they are engaging in credit or debit card fraud.
  • Telemarketing Fraud – Though less common nowadays, telemarketing fraud sees one person call several others to attempt to convince them they’ve won a sum of money, property, or some other reward. In this ruse, the receiving party may give away vital information the scammer can then use to their advantage.
  • Wire Fraud – Telemarketing fraud and wire fraud overlap, but the processes are not entirely the same. Wire fraud serves as a broader category of fraud than telemarketing fraud. This category includes any type of fraud that uses interstate wires, including email spam or phishing.
  • Bankruptcy Fraud – A person may falsely declare bankruptcy to escape loan sharks or to earn compensation from a supportive organization. Either way, declaring bankruptcy when you have the finances to support yourself is considered a federal crime.
  • Tax Evasion – If you intentionally do not pay taxes on income you’ve made over the course of a year, you may be charged with tax evasion, which is considered to be its own kind of fraud. (Do note, however, that mistakes made while filing taxes do not count as fraud – they are mistakes that the IRS will allow reporters to correct.)

What Laws Address Fraud?

Accusations of fraud can lead to both criminal and civil cases. The categorization of a case depends entirely on the individual who brings it to court. Anyone who has been a victim of fraud will be able to bring their case before a court. When they do, the court case will be considered a civil case.

Comparatively, the government can bring individuals it believes to be guilty of fraud before the court. In these situations, the legal case would be considered a criminal one.

In both cases, the charge of fraud must be proven by the prosecution beyond reasonable doubt. If the defendant is found to be guilty of any type of fraud, they may face significant fines or jail time. Civil defendants will have to return the money they took from their victims, as well.

What Does It Mean if Fraud Appears On a Criminal Records Report?

A criminal records check may reveal that the subject has been accused, acquitted, or charged with fraud. If you see the term fraud in your chosen report, continue to assess the data with which you’ve been presented. The term “fraud” alone can mean many things, and you’ll need additional context to understand the situation with which you’ve been presented.