People in Florida hear the word “fraud” and might immediately assume it to be a well-defined offense that whomever accused of it may have no justification for. Yet that may not always be the case. Indeed, even defining what constitutes fraud can be extremely difficult.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, there is no set definition for fraud. Lawmakers even recognize it to be a broad term (encompassing elements such as dishonesty, deceit and false representations). Rather, each unique circumstance of alleged must meet its own unique criteria.

Examining different elements of fraud

For example, per the DOJ, to qualify as wire fraud, an alleged offense must include an identified scheme mean to defraud, an intent on the part of the defendant to defraud another, and the use of interstate wire communications. The Cornell Law School cites Section 1344 of the U.S. Code when stating that bank fraud requires the willful participation in an artifice meant to deprive a financial institution of assets. Finally, the DOJ states that the law requires proof of an intent to devise or carry out a fraudulent scheme via the mail in order to warrant mail fraud charges.

Identifying intent

While one can see that there are unique elements of each of the aforementioned offenses, a common thread exists among them: intent. To justify any conviction for fraud, prosecutors must show that the accused displayed an intent to defraud those with whom they did business. This is what separates an actual case of fraud from a standard unsuccessful business transaction. If one believed themselves to be operating in good faith in promoting a commercial opportunity (even if they benefit regardless of whether the outcome is successful), then it may be difficult to prove any fraudulent intent ever existed.