Skip main navigation

The legal definition of fraud

This article outlines the main provisions of the Fraud Act 2006 and legislation in Scotland.
© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0

We looked briefly at the legal definition of fraud in the video in the previous step and you may remember the Fraud Act 2006 being mentioned.

In the next two steps, we will look at fraud legislation in more detail.

As you can see below, the legal definition of fraud differs from one part of the United Kingdom to another.

Fraud legislation in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland: The Fraud Act 2006

The Fraud Act 2006 in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland gives a statutory definition of the criminal offence of fraud and defines it in three classes:

  • Fraud by false representation
  • Fraud by failing to disclose information
  • Fraud by abuse of position

(Fraud Act 2006)

You will learn more about these classes of fraud in the next step.

The Fraud Act 2006, therefore, indicates that the focus should be on the suspect’s intentions and actions rather than proving that a victim has been deceived.

Fraud legislation in Scotland

The Fraud Act (2006) does not apply in Scotland. In Scotland, criminal fraud is mainly dealt with under common law (unwritten law based on custom or court decisions) and a number of statutory offences, including:

  • Common law fraud
  • Uttering
  • Embezzlement
  • Statutory frauds

In Scotland, the term ‘fraud’ refers to the deliberate use of deception or dishonesty to disadvantage or cause loss to another person or party (The Fraud Advisory Panel 2015).

Examples of fraud

Here are some examples of fraud.

Advance fee fraud Application fraud
Bank card fraud Online shopping and auction fraud
Mortgage fraud Insurance fraud
Online banking fraud Romance fraud
Identity theft Cheque fraud
Corporate fraud Mandate fraud
Consumer fraud  


London: The National Archives (2006) The Fraud Act [online]. available from [25 June 2019]
You will need to scroll down the page a bit to see the Act

The Fraud Advisory Panel (2014) Fraud Factsl Fraud in Scotland [online]. available from [25 June 2019]

Further reading

For further examples of fraud crimes have a look at the Counting Rules for Fraud.

The Home Office (2019) The Counting Rules for Recorded Crime [online]. available from [25 June 2019]

© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0
This article is from the free online

Fraud Investigation: Making a Difference

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education