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  1. Jimmy intentionally lies to Marco by telling Marco that Jimmy has a Kennedy half-dollar that's worth $800 because Kennedy is facing left not right.

  2. The actual value of the half-dollar is only $0.50.

  3. Marco buys the half-dollar from Jimmy for $100.

Is this transaction legal or is it fraud? If it's fraud, is it also a crime?

Jurisdiction: Illinois

  • From wikipedia it appears that left-facing is the usual design of a Kennedy half-dollar. Was this intentional in your question (i.e. the scenario is that Jimmy has a normal coin which he falsely claims is something rare and unusual)? – Tom Revell Mar 23 at 14:07
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    @TomRevell I'm pretty sure it was intentional. The point is you trick someone into buying a normal coin because he does not realize that that is the normal orientation. Studies (c. 1980's) show that most people don't off the top of their head know which way the faces go in various coins that they use, and the 50-cent piece is not used much by many people. – Damila Mar 23 at 14:59
  • If it is fraud then it is a crime by definition. Did you mean to distinguish between civil liability (Marco can demand his money back) and criminal liability (the police can arrest Jimmy and charge him with a crime)? – Paul Johnson Mar 23 at 16:20
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    Here's a very similar question. law.stackexchange.com/questions/17518 – James Mar 24 at 12:55
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    @PaulJohnson: There are civil prohibitions against fraud as well as criminal (fraud is a tort), and conduct that violates one need not violate the other. So even if it is fraud (in the civil sense), it need not necessarily be a crime. – Nate Eldredge Mar 26 at 22:53
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This is both fraudulent misrepresentation and the crime of fraud

Fraudulent misrepresentation

If Marco can prove that:

  • He relied on Jimmy's statement when entering the contract
  • Jimmy made a statement of fact - stating that it's a rare coin when it isn't is a statement of fact.
  • It was a positive statement - Jimmy actually said it, he didn't just stay silent when Marco said "Wow! A rare left-handed coin - it must be worth $800!".

Then there has been fraudulent misrepresentation and Marco can either:

  • rescind the contract - Jimmy gets the coin and Marco gets his $100 back.
  • claim damages - the value of Marco's expectation if Jimmy hadn't been lying - $799.50 (because he already has a coin worth $0.50).

Fraud

Its also fraud - a knowingly wrong statement made for financial gain. If the state wants to prosecute Jimmy can go to jail.

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Illinois code is probably similar, but this could be prosecuted as fraud in Georgia.

TITLE 16 - CRIMES AND OFFENSES

CHAPTER 9 - FORGERY AND FRAUDULENT PRACTICES

ARTICLE 4 - FRAUD AND RELATED OFFENSES

16-9-50. Deceptive business practices

(a) A person commits the offense of using a deceptive business practice when in the regular course of business he knowingly:

(1) Uses or possesses for use a false weight or measure or any other device for falsely determining or recording any quality or quantity;

(2) Sells, offers, or exposes for sale or delivers less than the represented quality or quantity of any commodity; or

(3) Takes or attempts to take more than the represented quantity of any commodity when as buyer he furnishes the weight or measure.

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  • Is this true with a collector's item? And in the bolded part, Jimmy gave the represented quantity. One coin. It's nominal value is $0.50. He gave the represented quality. It is not a counterfeit coin. The face goes the way he says it goes. He is just claiming it is worth $800 as a collector's item. The bolded statement seem to be about taking a Ford and slapping a Jag emblem on it. Or selling 100 count poly blend sheets as 500 count cotton, etc. – Damila Mar 23 at 19:43
  • This only applies if it is done "in the regular course of business". So if Jimmy is selling the coin to Marco in a shop then this law applies, but not if Jimmy is just an acquaintance of Marco. – Paul Johnson Mar 24 at 9:12

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