Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Proving Fraud Often Can Be Quite Difficult, Costly

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Proving Fraud Often Can Be Quite Difficult, Costly

Article excerpt

Q: I went to see a lawyer a while back because I felt I had been the victim of fraud. The lawyer told me that fraud was one of the hardest claims to prove. I told him I didn't see why that should be so. He tried to explain it to me, but either I'm too dense to get it or he wasn't clear enough.

I was able to work out the problem to my satisfaction, but I'm still curious. What's so hard about proving fraud?

A: To prove common-law fraud, you have to prove nine different things. If you can prove only eight out of nine, you lose.

Here are the nine things you must prove:

First, a "representation" was made to you. A representation can be an oral or written statement. It can also be the absence of a statement (such as an omission, or silence). It can also be conduct.

Second, the representation was false.

Third, it was "material." Courts have defined "material" in different ways, depending on the circumstances. One court said that something is material if it relates directly to the matter in controversy, and is such that the eventual result would not have happened if the representation had not been made, or if the hearer had known it was false. Another court, in a different case, said a representation was material if it affected a buyer's willingness to enter into a contract. Perhaps a shorthand definition of "material" could be "important enough to matter."

Fourth, the person making the representation must either (1) know that it is false, or (2) be ignorant of its truth or falsity.

Fifth, the person making the representation must have intended that you rely on it in a way which was reasonably contemplated. This means, in essence, that the statement must have been made with intent to deceive, or some equivalent. This "intent" requirement is generally considered by most lawyers I know to be the hardest part of proving fraud.

Sixth, you must not have known that the statement was false. If you knew it was false, you could not have been defrauded by it.

Seventh, you must have relied on the statement. If you didn't rely on it, even if it was false, you weren't defrauded by it.

Eighth, you must have had the right to rely on the statement. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.