The following is a general guide for educational purposes and does not represent a legal opinion. We recommend that you contact a competent licensed attorney or solicitor before taking any legal action.
Can You Use Law Suits To Recover Your Money?
In many cases, the answer may be yes!
First, it is important to understand what the limitations are on suing someone in your country. For this, we suggest that you do your research AND talk to a civil litigator to review your options and to develop a viable strategy.
You will need to understand any rights (if any) and what your chances of success may be.
For example: If you are a scam victim in the United States and you sent money to a money mule in the United State you might be able to recover some of your money by suing the Money Mule as a co-defendant in a civil complaint for fraud.
Remember, our role is not to educate you about the law or how to file a lawsuit, it is just to suggest an option that you can explore.
What Is Fraud?
Fraud is defined as an intentional deception committed by a person who acts deceitfully and unlawfully in order to obtain something of value. Types of fraud include tax fraud, credit card fraud, wire fraud, securities fraud, Social Security fraud, and bankruptcy fraud. Those who are accused of fraud are subject to fines and jail time. But if the police and prosecutors will not act, civil litigation is a possible route and under your direct control.
Fraud occurs when someone gains something of value, usually money or property, from a victim by knowingly making a false statement or misrepresentation of a matter of fact, or potentially being an accessory to fraud.
While fraud itself is an independent criminal charge, it can also appear in other charges as the means used or the intent required in the commission of a crime.
For example, identity theft charges often require that a defendant is accused of stealing another’s personal information with the intent to defraud them. Although a fraud scheme would be involved, that defendant could be charged with identity theft or a criminal use of personal identification information violation rather than fraud – depending on the state.
It is important to explore with your attorney all possible charges that could be made against those participating in scams to determine which are appropriate in each state or territory or country.
What Is Civil Fraud?
Conduct that constitutes civil fraud is incapable of precise definition, but it usually includes some type of deceitful, dishonest, or unfair behavior. The primary difference between civil fraud and criminal fraud is that to succeed on a claim for civil fraud there must be damages; that is, someone must suffer a tangible injury. Criminal fraud can be prosecuted even if unsuccessful.
As a scam victim, the money you lost are those damages (not your emotional distress.) Though, that may help with punitive damages that might be awarded in the case
Claims for civil fraud are usually based on fraudulent misrepresentation or inducement. Although all states may have slightly different elements that must be met to maintain a fraud action, commonly plaintiff (scam victim) must prove a misrepresentation, concealment, or deceit as to a material fact, the defendant’s knowledge as to the falsity of the representation, the defendant’s intention to induce the reliance by the plaintiff, actual reliance on the representation by the plaintiff to the detriment of the plaintiff, and the plaintiff suffered an injury as a result.
Consider: a money mule may be a scam victim themself. However, did the Mule suspect something was not right or even illegal in money they received? The mule may have had knowledge of a deception through their suspicions, and their failure to act may be the basis for their culpability.
An important component proving civil fraud is that any damages must be the proximate result of the fraud (meaning the money you actually lost.)
Compensatory and punitive damages are potential remedies in a civil fraud case.
What Do I Have To Show To Win A Lawsuit For Fraud?
You must show that you were genuinely deceived by the misrepresentations given to win a lawsuit for fraud. You must also show that the person making the statement knew it was an outright lie or that they were involved in a fraud. In the case of a money mule, they may have been a direct participant or an accessory to the fraud – your attorney will help you make these decisions.
Another Potential Approach: Misappropriation Of Funds
While many people are familiar with the term embezzlement, most are less are aware of what misappropriation of funds means.
While both offenses hinge on the unlawful use of another person’s assets, usually in a business setting (but not always,) misappropriation of funds refers to taking of money only and not other forms of property.
Elements Of Misappropriation:
To be liable for misappropriating funds, a case must establish that a defendant
- Was entrusted with possession or control of funds belonging to another person, entity, or organization (meaning the scam victim)
- Knowingly misappropriated the money or took an action that resulted in the misappropriation of funds
- Used the money for his or her own purposes, which can include transferring it to another bank account or refusing to deliver it upon demand by the owner
- While many misappropriation cases are tried in state court, cases involving particularly large sums may also be prosecuted in federal court.
Other Reasons For a Civil Complaint