Most misrepresentation and civil fraud cases arise from a contract situation. Misrepresentation in a contract can be innocent or fraudulent, but both can be grounds to void a contract. If the misrepresentation is fraudulent, then the victims of the fraud may also sue for damages.
Fraud is misrepresentation made with knowledge of falsity and the intent to deceive, and innocent misrepresentation is not meant to be deceptive.
In order for and assertion to be considered fraud, it must meet four criteria:
- An untrue assertion of fact was made.
- The assertion was made knowing that the statement was false.
- The complaining party entered the contract because of his reliance on the assertion.
- The reliance of the complaining party was justifiable.
If the plaintiff in a civil fraud lawsuit is seeking to recover damages for the deceit, he must also prove that he suffered actual economic injury because of his reliance on the fraudulent assertion.
In addition to the contract being voided, the fraudulent party may be responsible for damages, possibly including punitive damages, and for the tort of deceit as remedies to the victim. Someone who committed fraud may be tried in both criminal court for the crime they have committed and in civil court in order for the victim to collect damages. The Florida statute states that the remedy for fraud is three-times the actual damages.
Types of fraud include:
- Contract fraud
- Obtaining property by fraud
- Ponzi Schemes
- Consumer fraud
- Corporate fraud
- Investment fraud
- Check fraud
- Internet fraud
- Motor vehicle repair fraud