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Love, lies and...fraud? Understanding civil fraud lawsuits

Fraud can be either a criminal or civil matter -- or even both -- depending on the circumstances and parties involved. However, just because someone feels deceived, that doesn't necessarily rise to the level of legal fraud.

Take, for example, the recent lawsuit filed by a jilted lover after his girlfriend eventually rejected him and moved on to another. In response, the man filed a civil lawsuit, alleging a type of fraud known as "false representation."

Essentially, his complaint alleged that he'd spent a considerable amount of money on her over their year-long romance with the expectation that they would eventually be a permanent couple -- despite the fact that they were both married to other people (a fact the woman was open about but he somehow neglected to mention).

Legal fraud by false representation is essentially a lie designed to get something out of someone else. A person who relies on that false representation to his or her detriment may have a valid personal injury claim if:

  • The lie was either intentional or the result of willful ignorance
  • The person telling the lie fully intended it to be taken seriously and wanted the listener to believe it was the truth
  • The lie caused true physical or financial harm.

While emotional losses may eventually figure into any compensation, emotional losses alone aren't usually enough for a successful civil lawsuit.

In the case mentioned above, it seems clear that the woman was honest about her interest in the man at the time. Although he did spend a lot of money on gifts and trips for her, she was hesitant to accept and he frequently insisted that the money wasn't much to him because of his level of wealth. He referred to the thousands of dollars he'd spent as "pennies" in his mind.

When their relationship soured, the woman didn't continue to tell him she was still in love -- she quickly broke it off. Additionally, she ultimately did end her marriage and move on -- just with someone else.

Rather predictably, the court rejected the jilted lover's lawsuit and his appeal. However, there's as much to be learned from failed lawsuits as there are from those that are successful. Understanding why a personal injury lawsuit doesn't succeed can help you avoid the same errors.

A personal injury attorney can help you if you've been the victim of fraud.

Source: CityPages, "Jilted Minnesota man sues ex-girlfriend for 'fraud' after paying for trips to Vegas, Cancun," Susan Du, Aug. 23, 2017

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