Fraud Defence Solicitors
If you or your business are under investigation, have been arrested, invited for a voluntary interview or face proceedings for any allegations relating to fraud, our specialist team at JMW can provide expert advice, assistance and representation.
We have been and are involved in some of the most complex business crime and serious fraud investigations and prosecutions, and are ranked as a Top Tier Fraud Firm by the Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners.
The most common types of offences we have provided advice, assistance and representation for individuals and businesses include:
- Advance fee fraud
- Boiler room fraud
- Carousel/MTIC/VAT fraud
- Charity fraud
- Conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to commit fraud
- Credit/debit card fraud
- Diversion fraud
- False accounting
- Fraud against a financial institution
- Fraud by false representation
- Fraudulent investment schemes
- Income tax fraud
- Insider dealing and market abuse
- Insurance and benefit fraud
- Mortgage fraud
- Pensions fraud
You should contact JMW immediately if you:
- Have received a notice that you are under investigation;
- Have received a restraint, production or freezing order;
- Have been the subject of a dawn raid;
- Have been invited to an interview under caution; or
- Face a criminal prosecution.
Contact our specialist fraud solicitors today to discuss your situation in more detail - we offer a free initial consultation for all cases. Call us on 0345 872 6666, or fill in our online enquiry form to request a call back.
How JMW Can Help
We work with our clients to achieve the best possible service by combining the expertise of our team. Due to the complex nature of such cases, it is often vital to put together a comprehensive defence team consisting of solicitors as well as other experts or professionals. JMW’s team has extensive knowledge of the law with regard to fraud and related offences, and a track record of success in defending individuals and businesses.
We can help you form the strongest possible team, which may include:
- Financial service professionals
- Specialist counsel
- Forensic computer experts
- Litigation support consultants
- Reputation management experts
- Media law advisors
Our team has successfully defended and advised individuals, business owners, directors and high-level individuals in alleged fraud investigations and prosecutions. For your case to stand the best chance of success, you should seek our legal advice from the moment you are informed that you are under investigation. However, we are able to provide guidance and representation at any point during your case. This includes making representations to investigators and the prosecution about limiting or discontinuing a potential prosecution.
Conspiracy to Defraud and Conspiracy to Commit Fraud
With many fraud investigations, if charges are authorised, the charge is most likely to be conspiracy to defraud or conspiracy to commit fraud. However, other criminal defences may be alleged in the alternative or as additional offences.
If you have been charged with a conspiracy relating to fraud, this essentially means an agreement to defraud someone. It is one of the most common charges for this type of fraud. Importantly, it is the job of the prosecution in such cases to prove that you were party to an agreement to commit an offence and that you have acted dishonestly.
At JMW, our expert solicitors can help you build the best possible fraud defence and, in some instances, prevent criminal proceedings altogether. We have very significant experience representing clients in cases by the Serious Fraud Office and other institutions, and we can help you to fight fraud allegations while ensuring that your rights are protected at all times.
If you or your business are under investigation, have been arrested, invited for a voluntary interview under caution, charged or face proceedings for any allegations relating to fraud, our specialist team can provide expert advice, assistance and representation.
Types of Fraud Offences
The fraud department at JMW Solicitors has a vast amount of experience, and regularly deals with cases involving a wide variety of fraud allegations nationwide as well as those with international elements.
Advance Fee Fraud
Advance fee fraud involves asking people to make payment for goods or services upfront or in advance. The victim often believes they will stand to benefit financially as a result, but the anticipated goods, services or money never materialise. We can provide legal assistance to individuals and businesses accused of advance fee fraud or any other form of fraud against a financial institution or individual.
We can advise, assist and represent you in relation to any criminal allegation of fraud. Such offences are normally charged as conspiracy to defraud or fraud by false representation.
Boiler Room Fraud
We provide services to assist in defence against boiler room fraud in all its forms, regardless of the complexity of the case. A common boiler room fraud relates to the selling of shares that are heavily overpriced, worthless or, in very serious cases, completely non-existent. Such offences may involve a ‘cold call’ from an individual who offers the chance to invest in shares; they will promise high returns that sound too good to be true, and usually are.
We understand that sometimes, there is an incredibly fine line in determining whether an investment scheme is fraudulent or simply unsuccessful. As such, we can advise you on the right actions to take. We know that legitimate professionals and businesses can be unfairly scrutinised when such an investigation takes place and JMW is here to protect you.
If you or your company has been accused of running a boiler room fraud scheme, we can provide expert legal representation to help you defend against the charges. We have thorough knowledge and experience in this often complex area of law and will help you through every stage of the process.
Carousel/Missing Trader Intra Community (MTIC)/VAT Fraud
We are able to assist and represent you with regard to any charges associated with carousel and VAT fraud. Carousel fraud, also known as missing trader intra community fraud (MTIC), typically involves the importation of high-value technical goods, such as mobile phones, from European Union (EU) countries. These goods are initially purchased VAT-free, but are sold on by UK traders at VAT-inclusive prices.
The original trader, or a trader somewhere along the chain, then disappears without paying VAT to HMRC. In some situations, goods are then sold back to another EU country and the exporter reclaims VAT from HMRC.
It is very easy for honest traders to get caught up in carousel fraud, the perpetrators of the fraud often include a number of legitimate businesses in the chain in order to avoid arousing suspicion. Traders can also find themselves under suspicion of carousel fraud purely because they have started to import high-value goods.
We have represented many people who became unwittingly involved in missing trader fraud because they became a middle man in a supply chain; in most schemes of this kind, it is only the importer and exporter at either end who knowingly commit the offence.
If you or your business are under investigation or face criminal proceedings, our expert team can help. Regardless of the complexity of the case, we can help you build the strongest possible defence and give you the best chance of a successful outcome, enabling you to get on with the important matter of running your business.
If you are being investigated or accused of committing charity fraud, our specialist team of solicitors is here to help. We can provide advice and representation if you are an employee or trustee of a charity, or if you normally have no dealings with the charity but have been charged with committing external fraud against it.
We can support individuals and businesses who have been accused of defrauding a charity or have worked with a charity in a number of ways, including keeping donations for themselves, misusing charity credit cards or bank accounts and deliberately claiming inaccurate expenses.
In addition, we can represent those who have been accused of defrauding a charity with which they have no connection in the following ways: using false invoices to get money from a charity, using identity fraud to obtain money from a charity bank account, running phishing scams and fraudulent fundraising in a charity’s name.
Credit/Debit Card Fraud
We can help defend against all charges related to credit card fraud and we have a deep understanding of how to counter any accusations. Credit/debit card fraud can be incredibly complex and if related charges are brought, the prosecution must prove that actions amount to criminal conduct, that the evidence is admissible and that the evidence has been collected using the proper powers.
It can be difficult to prosecute for credit/debit card fraud as it can be hard to prove that someone deliberately set out to deceive and commit fraud. Additionally, it must be shown that any evidence has forensic integrity. This means the evidence has been collected properly, is admissible and has been properly attributed to the correct person.
Instances of credit card fraud and identity fraud have increased in recent years, and during this time, our team has honed its skills in defending people against complex charges.
Our credit card fraud defence solicitors can deal with cases involving a large number of transactions and accounts, and have experience in both traditional identity fraud as well as more technical cases involving triangulation and false merchant sites.
If allegations have been made against you or your company relating to diversion fraud, JMW can provide the specialist representation you need. We are vastly experienced in helping people to successfully defend against such serious and damaging accusations.
Diversion fraud is often referred to as outward or inward excise fraud, and it involves the illegal diversion of goods into the UK when they are destined for elsewhere. For example, the import or export of prohibited products, as well as wine, beer, spirits and cigarettes.
In some cases of diversion fraud, a number of people in the chain of goods are involved in the scam, but in others, people and businesses can inadvertently be drawn into fraudulent activity. We are able to assist in cases of both types of diversion fraud.
Outward Diversion Fraud
In cases of diversion fraud, goods supposed to be heading to UK warehouses for onward export into the European Union (EU) are unlawfully diverted into the UK market. Goods involved in this kind of fraud will be being moved under duty suspension and can involve warehouse operatives, hauliers, vendors and distributors.
Fraud of this type has one key aspect: the falsification of the accompanying administrative document (AAD), which is sent alongside goods and guarantees the duty involved. As well as this, the consignment note, often referred to as the convention merchandises routiers (CMR), is forged and will fraudulently confirm that goods have reached their destination.
Inward Diversion Fraud
Inward diversion fraud is when duty suspended goods are imported from a warehouse in the EU and are supposedly bound for a warehouse in the UK. If the consignment is checked en route, the goods are only able to reach the warehouse if they are specified in documents in accordance with the AAD.
If this does not happen, the goods are diverted to the UK market, even though the excise payment has not been made. A false warehouse stamp is then applied to the goods to make it appear as though they have been delivered in accordance with the law.
We have worked on many cases of both inward and outward diversion fraud, some involving very large numbers of defendants and witnesses and many involving months of court litigation.
False accounting is defined under Section 17 of the Theft Act 1968 as an offence that involves an individual intentionally falsifying, altering or submitting false, inaccurate or deceptive records for accounting purposes.
JMW provides expert advice, assistance and representation to businesses and individuals facing accusations of false accounting. We have helped many people charged with false accounting, from those in large businesses to others in smaller, family-run outfits, and can help organisations from across the UK.
Forgery and Counterfeiting
If you or your business are under investigation, or you are facing allegations of forgery or counterfeiting, JMW’s expert defence solicitors are here to provide expert advice, assistance and representation.
Fraud Against a Financial Institution
If you or your business are under investigation, or you have been arrested, invited for a voluntary interview, charged or face proceedings for any allegations relating to fraud against a bank or other financial institution, the specialist team at JMW can provide expert advice, assistance and representation.
Fraudulent Investment Schemes
We are able to provide advice, assistance and representation at any stage in defending you or your business during an investigation or proceedings relating to a fraudulent investment scheme. Such schemes make lavish promises to investors, assuring them that they will make a lot of money very quickly, but in most cases, investors are repaid with their own investment or money invested by others in good faith.
Typical schemes might include Ponzi or pyramid investments, land banking schemes and high-yield schemes. If facing allegations of involvement in such schemes, we can help by:
- Advising you during interviews held under caution
- Responding to any dawn raids
- Developing legal arguments
- Building your case and obtaining defence evidence
All investment schemes are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. It maintains and governs the register of firms that are legitimately able to offer investment schemes to the public. All regulated investment activity must comply with the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.
Regulated activities include accepting deposits, managing investments, advising investments, establishing certain types of pensions, and advising on/arranging home finances.
If you or your business have been accused of operating fraudulent investment schemes, the expert solicitors at JMW can offer you comprehensive protection. Charges for being found guilty can be very serious, including hefty fines and even imprisonment, so it is important you have access to a legal team highly experienced in this area of law.
Income Tax Fraud
Allegations of income tax fraud are serious and require the knowledge and experience of a specialist team. When dealing with income tax fraud allegations, we will put together a team of experts with the required expertise, including solicitors, computer forensic experts, accountants and electronic evidence experts.
Income tax fraud is investigated by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), which has a specialist office tasked with investigating evasion worth between £75,000 and £500,000. For cases involving alleged evasion of more than £500,000, there is a Specialist Investigation Office.
Our solicitors have experience in dealing with HMRC requests for disclosure, and we have a comprehensive understanding of the limits to the powers of HMRC, meaning that we can protect you from unjustified disclosure requests.
We can advise on the legality of the methods undertaken by HMRC to obtain information and explain the protections and challenges that are available to you. We will use our knowledge and experience to make sure any disputes are conducted in the fairest, most cost-effective and least stressful way for you, enabling you to progress with the important matter of running your business.
Insider Dealing and Market Abuse
Insider dealing and market abuse are among the most serious business crimes that a company or individual can be charged with. If you or the company you work for are facing allegations of insider trading and market manipulation, a robust defence is vital.
Insider dealing involves trading in securities or financial instruments based on non-public, material information about the company. This type of information can significantly influence the price once it becomes public. Engaging in insider dealing is a serious offence and can result in severe penalties, including fines and imprisonment.
Market abuse encompasses various activities that distort the proper functioning of financial markets. This can include manipulating market prices, spreading false information and engaging in misleading or deceptive behaviours that impact investors or the market's integrity.
Insurance and Benefit Fraud
If you or your business have been accused of committing either insurance or benefit fraud, JMW can provide the support and representation you need to successfully defend the charges. Our insurance and benefit fraud solicitors have vast experience in this area of fraud and we can create a robust and bespoke defence to fight your corner.
Insurance and benefit fraud can come in many different forms. People may make claims for insurance payouts or benefit payments to which they are not entitled, or they may fabricate a situation to get a payout. We can provide assistance if your business has become embroiled in any type of insurance or benefit fraud, supporting you from the very beginning through to the conclusion.
Accusations of insurance and benefit fraud need to be taken very seriously and dealt with correctly. Therefore, it is imperative to seek expert legal help to give yourself the best opportunity of securing a favourable outcome.
Mortgage fraud can be apparent in a significant number of mortgage applications each year, and this can often be attributed to the various difficulties faced by many people when trying to get a foot on the property ladder.
Examples of mortgage fraud include:
- Misrepresenting finances
- Embellishment of employment status
- Misrepresenting salary figures
- Masking poor credit history
- Hiding credit card debt or other debt
If you or your business have been accused of mortgage fraud, the experienced solicitors at JMW can provide the expert advice and representation you need. Mortgage fraud is a criminal offence and a conviction can result in a prison sentence, as well as a credit rating that is damaged beyond repair. This can make it difficult to obtain credit or any other financial deal for the rest of your life, so it is vital to build the strongest possible defence in these cases.
If you are facing an investigation by the Pensions Ombudsman following a complaint by a member, or the Pensions Regulator due to criminal allegations being made, we can advise, assist and represent you at every stage. Whether it is a complaint by an individual member of a pension scheme for failing to comply with the regulations or legislation, or an investigation for criminal offences, JMW has expert solicitors who can assist.
We will put together a robust defence team that will be able to advise, assist and represent you during the investigation stage, defend you if any criminal offences are brought and prepare your case for trial.
What Are the Penalties for Committing Fraud?
The penalties related to fraud range from community orders and fines to custodial sentences. The punishment faced for committing fraud depends on a number of factors, which can include:
- The act of fraud being part of a planned or premeditated operation
- What damage was caused by the act of fraud - for example, financial loss
- How long fraudulent activities were carried out for
- Any attempts to conceal or dispose of evidence
- Whether the act of fraud has funded large-scale organised crime, such as drugs or human trafficking
There are other factors that may be taken into account when a sentence is being considered that may reduce the penalty given out by the judge. These include:
- Cooperating with investigating authorities
- Voluntarily giving back the money taken through fraudulent means
- Providing evidence to show that fraudulent behaviour was stopped before being caught
In serious fraud cases, seeking legal advice quickly is absolutely essential. To speak to a solicitor about a serious fraud matter call us on 0345 872 6666, or fill in our online enquiry form to arrange a call back.
FAQs About Serious Fraud
What is corporate fraud?
Corporate fraud refers to any illegal or dishonest activities conducted by businesses or their employees that seek to improve the economic position of the company or gain an unfair advantage. Alternatively, corporate fraud can also refer to cases in which an employee or other individual commits an illegal or dishonest act to the detriment of their employer or another business.
While the activities listed above serve as examples of the most common types of fraud, this is a complex area of the law and as such, it is important to seek legal support if you are accused of a financial crime. If you have been invited to attend an interview with the Serious Fraud Office, are subject to an Account Freezing Order, or have any other relationship to a criminal offence or investigation, contact the corporate fraud solicitors at JMW.
What activities constitute serious fraud?
There are several types of financial crime that fall under the label of serious fraud. These include:
- Embezzlement - when an individual misappropriates funds or assets entrusted to them for personal gain. In business, this can include employees creating fake invoices or forging checks to divert company funds into their own accounts.
- Insider Trading - using confidential information about a company's financial status or future plans to gain an unfair advantage in investment decisions.
- Financial Statement Fraud - a company deliberately manipulates financial statements to present a more favourable picture of its financial health. This can involve overstatement of revenues, understatement of expenses, or manipulation of balance sheet items in order to mislead investors or other stakeholders.
- Bribery - the act of offering or accepting something of value in exchange for inappropriately favourable treatment or influence. This includes kickbacks, which are a form of bribery where a portion of the money or goods involved in a transaction is returned to the payer as an incentive.
- Asset Misappropriation - the theft or misuse of company assets, including inventory and equipment.
- Tax Evasion - the deliberate underpayment or non-payment of taxes. Businesses may attempt this by providing false information, underreporting income, inflating deductions or through other means.
- Money Laundering - disguising the origins of illegally obtained funds by passing them through legitimate business transactions. Companies may be involved in this process knowingly or unknowingly.
- Price Fixing - competitors collude to set prices at an agreed-upon level, rather than allowing market forces to determine them. This includes bid rigging, in which companies collude to coordinate bids on contracts to ensure a particular party wins.
What happens during serious fraud investigations?
If you are placed under investigation for a fraud offence, there are a number of things that may happen. If your business is publicly listed, it may decide to announce that it is under investigation in the interests of keeping its stakeholders informed. Alternatively, the investigating authority may make this information public if it decided to make a public call for witnesses.
You may be asked to attend an interview under caution on a voluntary basis, or compelled to attend. In these cases, it is vital that you have expert representation from an experienced solicitor. Our fraud lawyers have represented clients in all types of fraud cases and can help to ensure that you answer questions in sufficient detail so as not to harm your defence.
Your accounts - whether personal or business - may be subject to an Account Freezing Order, which restricts assets to the funds they contain. If investigating authorities believe that the funds in your account are the proceeds of criminal activity, or may be used for a criminal purpose, they will often freeze access. This can make it difficult for your business to continue to trade, but with legal support, you may be able to vary or discharge an account freezing order and regain control of your funds.
The relevant authority may also apply for a production order, which allows them to obtain evidence from documents held by banks, business societies and others. They may do this without a suspect's knowledge, because they believe that alerting the suspect could jeopardise the investigation and prevent the funds from being successfully frozen, or because they do not think that the suspect will give up the information voluntarily.
These orders can be challenged, so it is vital to contact expert serious fraud solicitors as soon as you become involved in an investigation of this nature. They can also represent you in interviews and in court, if necessary, to ensure you can rely on the best possible defence.
What should I do if I am contacted by the Serious Fraud Office?
The Serious Fraud Office, or SFO, is a non-ministerial government department that investigates the most complex cases of fraud, corruption, bribery and other financial crimes. They may be involved in or responsible for investigations and prosecutions relating to any of the types of fraud listed above.
You may be contacted by the SFO if you are invited to attend an interview. In more serious cases, this may be an interview under caution, but you should always be accompanied by a solicitor during this process. Even if you are not involved in any criminal activity, there is the potential that you could inadvertently incriminate yourself without the support of expert serious fraud solicitors.
As such, you should contact a solicitor at your earliest opportunity. If you are under investigation, a team with experience in fraud defence work is vital - such investigations can last for a long time and come with heavy penalties if you are found guilty, but with the right support, you will have the best chance to defend yourself and avoid the most serious consequences.