Fraud is regarded as a serious crime in the UK. It covers a wide range of activities and possible offences, with sentences reflecting this variety. If you find yourself being investigated for a fraud offence it can be extremely worrying, with the majority of those involved having no previous criminal conviction.
The sentence for fraud will depend on the specific circumstances of the case. Factors such as the amount of money involved, as well as the level of planning that took place, and the complexity of the offence will all be taken into account.
Cases will always be considered based on their individual details which can result in very different sentences for offences under the same category of fraud.
What are the sentencing options that the court has available?
Should you be convicted of a fraud offence the court has a range of possible sentencing options it can deliver:
In the most severe cases of fraud, a convicted person can be sent to prison. The length of any sentence will reflect the severity and nature of any fraud that has been committed, along with other aggravating or mitigating factors
A fine may be imposed as well as a custodial sentence or as an alternative. The amount of fine levied will reflect a combination of the severity of the fraud, the financial means of the convicted person and the amount of money involved in the fraud case.
- Restitution Orders
A restitution order compels the convicted person to pay restitution to the victim of the crime. This can involve paying back any assets or money that was obtained via fraudulent means.
- Confiscation Order
A confiscation order requires the convicted person to surrender assets and money that were involved in the fraud.
- Community Orders
A community order may be used as an alternative to a custodial sentence. This could involve performing community service, complying with a curfew or attending rehabilitation programmes.
- Suspended Sentence
A court may choose to impose a suspended sentence. This means that the convicted person will be placed on probation rather than being sent to prison immediately. The option to send the person to prison at a later date is retained should they fail to fully comply with the terms of their probation.
Fraud Categories for Sentencing
There are five categories of fraud offences that are reflected in the sentencing guidelines:
- Confidence fraud
These are crimes where the perpetrator deceives the victim and wins their confidence. They are frequently targeted at vulnerable people and can include crimes such as charity scams, advance fee frauds and lottery scams. These are prosecuted under the Fraud Act with a maximum custodial sentence of 10 years. Typically, sentencing ranges from between 4 to 7 years.
- Possessing, making or supplying articles for use in fraud
Creating fraudulent documentation such as passports or credit cards to obtain financial benefits or other assets is prosecuted under the Fraud Act. It carries a maximum penalty of 10 years, with sentences of around 5 years being more common for more serious cases, and 6 months to 2 years for relatively less serious convictions.
- Banking, insurance and credit fraud
These fraud offences can range considerably in severity and complexity, from small scale frauds involving relatively modest sums of money to complex international banking fraud. In the former case, a restitution order and a community sentence may be received by the convicted person. In more serious crimes involving over £500,000, the sentence may be between 4-7 years imprisonment, with a maximum sentence of 10 years in rare cases.
- Benefit fraud
Benefits fraud can range from individuals making false statements on their benefit claims to organised attempts at wholesale fraud through the use of fake identities or syndicates. Sentencing reflects this variety, with minor fraud requiring repayment, fines and in some cases community orders. More complex cases involving larger amounts may see convicted persons going to prison for between 4-7 years, with a maximum term imprisonment of 10 years.
- Revenue fraud
This category can include a range of offences such as carousel frauds, evasion of VAT and Missing Trader (MTIC) fraud. Well-organised crimes resulting in the loss of significant amounts of taxpayer revenue can result in custodial sentences between 3-7 years. Smaller amounts and less complex frauds will often result in a community sentence. Repeat offenders, even for smaller amounts, may receive a custodial sentence of 3 to 6 months.
Expert legal advice and support in fraud cases from Mandla Bhomra
If you are being investigated or prosecuted for an alleged fraud offence, then it’s important to seek immediate legal advice. At Mandla Bhomra, our experienced legal specialists can provide you with discreet professional advice and representation.
Contact us today for confidential advice.