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A person has been threatened with Fraud Act for a claim he made a year back. The claim was approved by the other party and there was a payout. After a year, the party threatens to charge with fraud and says the claim was fraudulent. Unfortunately, due to the time lapse, the person does not recall the specifics of the episode and why he made the claim. Gathering of evidence also is difficult, and the accuser is also wrong in not having done the due diligence in approving the claim.

What provisions does the Fraud Act of 2006 carry to protect the accused? What does it take to argue that the accused was intentional in his act of making the claim?

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  • A claim for what? Insurance? Expenses? A claim big enough to trigger a fraud case, and the claimant doesn't remember why he made it? Really? What has 'due diligence' go to do with fraudulent intent by the claimant? – Michael Harvey Apr 27 at 21:43
  • @MichaelHarvey: The claim is £5 for a train delay repayment. The due diligence by the party is to check whether he really made the journey or not. – Hush Apr 27 at 21:49
  • My train company requires one to provide the ticket, receipt or an official form from the conductor (eg if the ticket is needed for onward travel) when submitting a claim. – Rock Ape Apr 27 at 22:10
  • @RockApe: The person had a valid ticket, but the question is on whether he took the delayed train or the one before or after that. For some journeys, he remembers taking the trains but his logs are missing from the company's data, which he finds to be strange. – Hush Apr 27 at 22:14
  • Did the person use a third-party claims agency? – Michael Harvey Apr 28 at 6:30
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What time protection does the Fraud Act of 2006 offer to the accused?

None. Fraud is what we call an "either way offence" and there is no time limit on bringing a prosecution.

What does it take to argue that the accused was intentional in his act of making the claim?

Evidence of his intent, in particular anything that can be shown to be dated when the claim was made. (He should consider seeing an experienced lawyer who specialises in this area.)

ETA Following the OP's comment that this was a claim for £5:00. I'm not overly familiar with the prosecution policies of the Train Operating Companies and/or British Transport Police but if this was an isolated incident (ie not a regular occurrence or part of wider organised criminality) I would say that it is possibly a toothless threat - de minimis non curat lex (the law does not deal with trifles).

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The Crown must prove the fraud

This is the same protection that anyone accused of a crime has, the burden of proof, beyond reasonable doubt, rests on the prosecution.

This sounds like a Section 2 fraud so the elements that need to be proved are

  • a dishonestly made false representation. That is, one that is untrue or misleading and that the defendant knows is or might be untrue or misleading
  • for the purposes of gain or to cause loss.

There is a statute of limitations of 6 months for summary offences but no limit on indictment. Fraud can be either at the discretion of the prosecutor. The defendant would need to be indicted and the punishment is up to 10 years imprisonment or a fine or both.

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I suspect that in the current quiet time for travel, they are doing audits, especially of multiple claims via "Delay Genie" and similar apps . If the claim or claims date from a year ago, if fraud is suspected, the only way this can be dealt with is via the Crown Court at trial on indictment. This is because the six-month period has passed for prosecutions in the Magistrates' Court.

The person in question should carefully consider their position. If they have indeed even possibly submitted a potentially dubious claim, (regardless of value), they ought to obtain legal advice. If they have used a smartcard, then they REALLY need to consider their position, because an audit will likely compare tap in and tap out times at ticket barriers / on board inspection taps / platform validator machines against the claimed "delayed" journeys.

If the person has had a letter from the TOC (wouldn't be Abelio Greater Anglia by any chance?) it may have offered the opportunity to repay any claims the claimant now feels they made in error. If the sum in question is small, they may (especially if the claim or claims were made in error) decide to minimise the cost by paying up.

If they have had such a letter possibly they should consider whether, on mature reflection, the simplicity of putting through a claim with a few clicks meant that they decided to put through a claim for the train before/after the one they took, or on a day they worked from home, etc. I am, of course, NOT suggesting this is the case, but some people justify this to themselves because “the railway has loads of money”, “tickets are too expensive”, or “I always get delayed 10-14 minutes so just miss out”. But doing so is fraud.

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