1. Home
  2. Fraud
  3. What is fraud?

What is fraud?

Fraud is a type of criminal activity, defined as:

'abuse of position, or false representation, or prejudicing someone's rights for personal gain'.

Put simply, fraud is an act of deception intended for personal gain or to cause a loss to another party.

The general criminal offence of fraud can include:

  • deception whereby someone knowingly makes false representation
  • or they fail to disclose information
  • or they abuse a position.

Fraudsters are always finding new ways to trick you out of your money.  You could find yourself targeted through emails, phone calls, letters, social networking sites or even chat rooms.  For a greater understanding of the types of fraud and how they are classified please see our taxonomy of fraud.

Who can help you?

Most cases of fraud will be dealt with by the police, and occasionally other agencies.

Action Fraud is the UK's national fraud and internet crime reporting centre. It provides a central point of contact for information about fraud and financially motivated internet crime. If you've been scammed, ripped off or conned, there is something you can do about it - get in touch with Action Fraud.

What we do

The SFO investigates and, where appropriate, prosecutes cases of serious or complex fraud (including cases of domestic or overseas bribery and corruption) which, in the opinion of the Director of the SFO, call for the multi-disciplinary approach and legislative powers available to the SFO. In deciding what cases to adopt, the Director will consider all the circumstances of the case including:

  • the scale of loss (actual or potential);
  • the impact of the case on the UK economy;
  • the effect of the case on the UK's reputation as a safe place to do business;
  • the factual or legal complexity and the wider public interest.