Conspiracy to defraud is a common law financial crime created by earlier cases and designed to catch those areas of fraud that are not specifically covered by existing legislation (mainly the Fraud Act). The specialist lawyers at Qamar Solicitors are highly experienced in advising clients facing all kinds of fraud charges including conspiracy to defraud. If you are facing investigation or prosecution for conspiracy to defraud, contact us as early as possible for expert, strategic advice.
What is ‘conspiracy’?
Conspiracy to commit an offence is wide ranging (see our Conspiracy section for further information) and is essentially an agreement between two or more people to commit an unlawful act, or to commit a lawful act by unlawful means.
Conspiracy to defraud requires an agreement on a course of conduct to put at risk the property of another. This is much wider than what is required for specific fraud offences, theft or deception-related offences and is a relatively complex area of law. All it requires is knowledge that their agree actions will result in the defrauding of the intended victim. The offence does not depend on them actually committing the agreed acts.
The factual circumstances of conspiracy to defraud cases vary from persuading a partner who is a bank employee to access customers’ account details; to involvement in a sophisticated conspiracy to steal and alter cheques to match stolen cards.
There are two different forms of conspiracy to defraud exist:-
Conspiracy to expose a person to loss or risk (requiring an agreement between two or more people to dishonestly deprive someone of something to which he or she is entitled to)
Conspiracy to deceive a person who is in a position of responsibility (requiring a dishonest agreement to defraud someone by deceiving that person into acting against his or her duty, for instance, public officials and employees
An individual may face a charge of conspiracy to defraud in circumstances where, for instance, specific offences under the Fraud Act don’t reflect the nature of the offence, for instance, where there was a plan but it is not difficult to determine who did what.
In some cases involving an alleged conspiracy involving a number of people, the prosecution may take the approach of charging all those potentially involved with conspiracy to defraud rather than charging individuals with various specific offences under the Fraud Act - which could prove unduly complicated and costly. In these cases, we seek to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to convict in the first place.
Other instances where an individual could face a charge for conspiracy to defraud include agreements to conceal bank losses or liabilities from shareholders and others; agreements to make fraudulent hire-purchase/credit applications in order to secure loans; and agreements to make pirate copies of films.
Conspiracy to defraud is treated seriously and is an indictable only offence (meaning it will be tried in the Crown Court). On conviction, the defendant may receive a prison sentence of up to 10 years and or a fine depending on the specific circumstances of the offence.