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I recently got into an argument regarding whether submitting the following letter to an instituition could be regarded as a fraud:


To Whomsover It May Concern

This is to certify that X is pursuing a Minor specialization in our department.

The courses offered by our department that have been taken by X are as follows:

A

B

C

Signed, Head of the Department


Now, B and C are the courses that X has taken as a part of the Minor specialization and A is a course that X has taken additionally but is not a part of the minor specialization. Now, one point of view is that the statement about the list of courses provides a sufficient reason behind the first statement--in which case, there is nothing fraudulent. Another intepretation is that the statement about the list of courses implies that these courses were taken as a part of the minor--due to which the document is obviously a case of fraud.

I would like to know which interpretation is correct--whether one should assume that the second statement provides a sufficient reason for the first or that it provides a necessary reason for the first.

  • Wouldn't it be simpler just to mention the first statement? If they need to know specific courses taken, use a transcript format, not a listing in a letter. – Brandin Nov 22 '17 at 12:38
  • @Brandin Agreed. But as mentioned, since it is a Minor specialization, it would take a little effort for someone to find all the courses of the relevant department from the general transcript. The transcript doesn't mention them separately. So, I was thinking of attaching such a letter along with the official transcript. – Dvij Mankad Nov 22 '17 at 13:53
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    The inference that "X has taken A,B,C" means "A,B,C are required for the program" is not reasonable. Even if the recipient cared whether A is part of the program, and even if the writer were mistaken about whether one of the courses had been taken, there is no intent to deceive and thus no fraud. – user6726 Nov 22 '17 at 17:31
  • @user6726, agreed! You could reword it deceptively but would have to try pretty hard! – JeffUK Nov 23 '17 at 17:27
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The second statement is completely independent of the first.

  1. This is to certify that X is pursuing a Minor specialization in our department**.**[PERIOD]

  2. The courses offered by our department that have been taken by X are as follows:[...]

As long as both of these statements are true, it is not deceptive, therefore not fraudulent.

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A statement is only fraudulent if the misstatement is material to the person who receives it.

I can imagine a situation in which where someone actually has completed a minor and has actually taken the classes indicated, that the fact that one of them was actually taken for a purpose other than qualification for the minor would be material, although it is pretty esoteric.

This would be in the case of a transfer student in which the accepting institution only recognizes minor specializations with at least 18 credit hours of classes taken to qualify, but the sending institution recognizes minor specializations with 15 credit hours of classes to recognize a minor specialization, and the extra course is included to mislead the accepting institution to recognize a minor specialization that does not actually meet its rules for recognition. In that case, the misleading inclusion of the extra course would be material and it would therefore be fraudulent (although the injury suffered from the fraud would also sometimes be quite speculative, one might have to show that the transfer student would otherwise have to pay more tuition to graduate with this credential from the accepting institution, for example).

In almost any other case, the inclusion of the extra course would not be material and therefore, it would not be fraudulent.

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    Also, should be noted that there is an intent requirement. Badly worded does not necessarily mean fraud. But if the intent was to deceive the Registrar's Office with respect to the student's grad eligibility, there might be fraud in that action – A.fm. Nov 22 '17 at 15:55

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