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Is it illegal to lie on anonymously paid market research surveys in the united states? What if you're making large amounts of money such as 10k+/ year by lying on these surveys? Would this be considered wire fraud or fraud of any kind? If so, what's the usual and most legal action a company can take towards you in this type of case?

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    Does this answer your question? Is lying on a survey illegal? Sep 6, 2023 at 23:17
  • Does one get paid for lying, or for completing a survey?
    – user35069
    Sep 7, 2023 at 9:04
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    This is a really good question. One of the sine qua non elements of traditional Fraud is that the lie actually induces the victim to part with their property or money - that is, the victim would not have paid had they known the truth. If one gets paid the same amount regardless of the answers (e.g. an honest answer would not have changed the outcome), it could stand to reason that lying is not fraud, but perhaps a breach of contract if the person promised to tell the truth. Sep 7, 2023 at 10:55
  • I don't know if you have a specific platform in mind, but often platforms that offer payment for surveys will give surveys based on your situation. For example some surveys might only go to recent mothers or people with a specific profession. I'd think the answer might very well depend on whether it's such a survey, or one that is send to anyone who wants to participate. As in, for the first type payment will depend on the answers you give, the other won't.
    – Dnomyar96
    Sep 7, 2023 at 11:28
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    @meddy_eddy Its still fraud, even if you get away with it. Sep 9, 2023 at 10:26

3 Answers 3

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It is not a crime, nor criminal fraud. It might be breach of contract, depending on the participation contract that you sign, and you might then be denied the compensation that would have been due to you. The survey company could declare that they believe that the participant breached the contract and lied, then the participant could sue for breach of contract, and to defend themselves, the company would have to prove that the responses were lies.

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    If you enter into a contract in bad faith with no intention of providing your side, then that is fraud. Sep 7, 2023 at 9:18
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    This answer appears to be a blind guess, as it doesn't cite any laws.
    – bdb484
    Sep 7, 2023 at 12:54
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Although not theoretically impossible, it would be very unusual for A's lies to give rise to fraud. Each jurisdiction is different but generally, fraud has three major components:

  1. A lies to B,
  2. B relies on the information A gave it, and
  3. as a result of that reliance, B suffers a loss.

In this case, 1 is true, but 2 and 3 would be very difficult to argue. Normally, B wouldn't make a decision based solely on one survey response - the whole point of a survey is to get many responses - so it would be difficult to prove reliance. (It might be different if A engaged in ballot-stuffing or induced other people to give the same lie, such that it affected the overall conclusion of the survey.) B would also have to show that its reliance was "reasonable", meaning a typical person in B's situation would also have relied on that information, and that its reliance led directly to the loss it suffered.

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    Any decrease in accuracy in the results would be a loss to B, so your argument seems to be not that prongs 2 and 3 are false, but that the loss itself is de-minimis. However its reasonable to infer that the value to A of the information is at least that of the payment to B, which is clearly not de-minimis. Sep 7, 2023 at 9:17
  • "Rely on" has a fairly specific meaning in law. A survey company takes the information collected, anonymizes it by statistical aggregation, and sells it to their customers, but do not themselves increase they expenditure based on your answers (indeed, their costs would slightly decrease when you lie to be included in the survey). But clearly their customers are going to rely on the survey results; why else would they fund the survey? The legal effect will vary between jurisdictions depending on things like inference of contractual privity enabling the customer to sue you. Sep 7, 2023 at 18:00
  • Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe that I'm not technically committing fraud against the company. I'd be committing fraud against the customers who are using the company for their survey population. I don't think the customers can pursue legal action against me since the survey responses are reported anonymously and in aggregates. In this case, what sort of legal action can the company take against me?
    – meddy_eddy
    Sep 9, 2023 at 4:52
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At the point where you are promised payment a contract is formed and you need to read the specifics of that contract to see whether lying would be fraud or not.

Example 1: Company is offering 10$ to single mothers to fill out their survey. You (male, no children) claim to be a single mother and fill out the survey. Your lying is fraud.

Example 2: Company is offering you 10$ for participating in their survey. Question one in the survey: how many cars do you own? You answer 17 (true answer 0). You lied but didn't commit any fraud. The contract was for participating in the survey which you did.

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