What Constitutes “Fraudulent Intent”?

What Constitutes "Fraudulent Intent"?

What constitutes “fraudulent intent,” and why does intent matter?

One must act with fraudulent intent to be guilty of a fraud crime. This means the prosecution must prove that a criminal defendant had the intent to defraud someone. To be certain, proving up what happens in one’s mind can be a difficult task. When you hire an experienced fraud defense attorney, she can use this as part of mounting a strong defense against the prosecution’s case against you.

The U.S. Attorney’s Manual section on Proof of Fraudulent Intent cites U.S. v. Alston, “The requisite intent under the federal mail and wire fraud statutes may be inferred from the totality of the circumstances and need not be proven by direct evidence.” United States v. Alston, 609 F.2d 531, 538 (D.C. Cir. 1979). The Manual extends the tenets of this holding to fraud crimes and fraudulent intent generally, and states: “Thus,┬áintent can be inferred from statements and conduct.”

To be guilty of a Fraud scheme, one need not have successfully defrauded anyone out of money or completed any other illicit gain. It is not a necessary element of fraud that the alleged victims actually suffer injury. The prosecution must only show “that some actual harm or injury was contemplated by the schemer.”

Recently a jury convicted Martin Shkreli of defrauding investors even though none of the investors actually lost any money. Shkreli admitted that his statements were “not always truthful,” but his defense hinged on the claim that nobody was defrauded because nobody lost any money. The jury focused on what constitutes fraudulent intent, and ultimately voted to convict Shkreli of fraud.

As you can see, fraud crimes and how they are prosecuted are highly complex. If you are charged with fraud, it is critical that you hire an experienced fraud defense attorney. Conviction for fraud can carry severe penalties, including imprisonment and hefty fines. Your freedom is on the line.

As a former fraud prosecutor with the United States Attorney’s Office, Ashley D. Adams understands the government’s tactics and knows how to establish the best possible defense for your case. Given her prior work, she also has a longstanding and positive relationship with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Attorney General’s Office, and the Department of Justice. Put Ashley D. Adam’s experience to work for you.

If you are facing charges of fraud we urge you to contact us right away for a consultation. The sooner we begin our investigation, the sooner we can implement all available legal strategies to defend you.

Contact us or call now (480) 219-1366 for a case evaluation.


Our firm handles state criminal cases throughout Arizona and federal criminal cases throughout the United States, including Arizona, Oklahoma, Utah, and California.