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Fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual or entity. The specific legal definition varies by legal jurisdiction. Fraud is a crime, and also a civil law violation. Defrauding people or entities of money or valuables is a common purpose of fraud, but there have also been fraudulent "discoveries", e.g. in science, to gain prestige rather than immediate monetary gain.


  • Fraud includes the pretense of knowledge when knowledge there is none.
    • Benjamin Cardozo, Ultramares Corp. v. Touche, 255 N.Y. 170, 179, 174 N.E. 441, 444 (1931).
  • Perplexed and troubled at his bad success
    The Tempter stood, nor had what to reply,
    Discovered in his fraud, thrown from his hope.
  • So glistered the dire Snake, and into fraud
    Led Eve, our credulous mother, to the Tree
    Of Prohibition, root of all our woe.
    • John Milton, Paradise Lost (1667, 1674), Book DC, line 643.
  • Some cursed fraud
    Of enemy hath beguiled thee, yet unknown,
    And me with thee hath ruined.
    • John Milton, Paradise Lost (1667, 1674), Book DL L. 904.
  • Am I a fraud or a scholar? I am both of course, as we all are. Because half of what I know I don't believe. And half of what I know I cannot prove.
Quotes reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, The Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 94-98.
  • "Fraud in point of law" is, to my mind, the oddest expression.
    • Bramwell, B., Holland v. Russell (1863), 11 W. R. 758.
  • It is fraud in law if a party makes representations which he knows to be false, and injury ensues, although the motives from which the representations proceeded may not have been bad.
  • I do not understand legal fraud. To my mind it has no more meaning than legal heat or legal cold, legal light or legal shade. There never can be a well-founded complaint of legal fraud, or of anything else, except where some duty is shown and correlative right, and some violation of that duty and right.
    • Lord Bramwell, Weir v. Bell (1878), 3 Ex. D. 243.
  • No man is bound to presume a fraud.
    • Chitty, J., In re Denham and Co., L. R. 25 Ch. 766.
  • Non decipitur qui scit se decipi
    • He is not deceived who knows himself to be deceived.
    • 5 Co. 60.
  • There is always fraud presumed or inferred from the circumstances or conditions of the parties contracting : weakness on one side, usury on the other, or extortion or advantage taken of that weakness.
    • Lord Hardwicke, L.C., Earl of Chesterfield v. Janssen (1750), 2 Ves. Sen. 156.
  • It is impossible in a Court of justice to call a particular act a bona fide act simply because a man says that he did not intend to commit a fraud.
    • Jessel, M.R., In re National Funds Assurance Co. (1878), L. R. 10 Ch. 128.
  • Fraud and deceit abound in these days more than in former times.
  • The Statute of Frauds is a weapon of defence not offence.
    • Lord Selbome, Jervis v. Berridge (1873), L. R. 8 Ch. Ap. 360.
  • I must confess to such an abhorrence of fraud in business that I am always most unwilling to come to a conclusion that a fraud has been committed, and I have very strong views with regard to what is the legal definition of fraud. It seems to me that no recklessness of speculation, however great, and that no extortion, however enormous, is fraud. It seems to me that no man ought to be found guilty of fraud unless you can say he had a fraudulent mind and an intention to deceive.
    • Brett, L.J., Wilson v. Church (1879), L. R. 13 Ch. 51.
  • Collusion is not necessary to constitute fraud.
    • Bidler, J., Pasley v. Freeman (1789), 3 T. R. 51.
  • The strongest mind cannot always contend with deceit and falsehood.
    • Lord Wynford, Blackford v. Christian (1829), 1 Knapp, 77.
  • I know of no case where by implication of law the duty of clearing himself from an imputed fraud rests on the defendant.
    • Lord Watson, Cavendish Bentinck v. Fenn (1887), L. R. 12 App. Ca. 666.
  • The manner of the transaction was to gild over and conceal the truth; and whenever Courts of law see such attempts made to conceal such wicked deeds they will brush away the cobweb varnish and show the transactions in their true light.
    • Wilmot, L.C.J., Collins v. Blantern (1767), 2 Wils. 349.
  • I think that it must in every case depend upon the nature of the transaction, whether the fact not disclosed is such, that it is impliedly represented not to exist; and that must generally be a question of fact proper for a jury.
    • Blackburn, J., Lee v. Jones (1864), 17 C. B. (N. S.) 506.
  • The Court exercises its jurisdiction for the enforcement of the truth, and makes a man's acts square with his words, by compelling him to perform what he has undertaken.
    • Sir John Romilly, M.R., Laver v. Fielder (1862), 32 Beav. 13.
  • The Court never loses the power of unravelling cases of fraud.
    • Bacon, C.J., Ex parte McHattie; In re Wood (1878), L. R. 10 C. D. 402.
  • An action cannot be supported for telling a bare naked lie: but that I define to be, saying a thing that is false, knowing or not knowing it to be so, and without any design to injure, cheat, or deceive another person. Every deceit comprehends a he; but a deceit is more than a lie, on account of the view with which it is practised, its being coupled with some dealing, and the injury which it is calculated to occasion, and does occasion, to another person.
    • Buller, J., Pasley v. Freeman (1789), 3 T. R. 56.
  • Collusion between two persons, to the prejudice and loss of a third, is, in the eye of the Court, the same as a fraud.
    • Hardwicke, L.C., Garth v. Cotton (1750), 1 Ves. 524.
  • If every untrue statement which produces damage to another would found an action at law, a man might sue his neighbour for any mode of communicating erroneous information, such (for example) as having a conspicuous clock too slow, since plaintiff might thereby be prevented from attending to some duty or acquiring some benefit.
    • Lord Denman, C.J., Barley v. Walford (1837), 9 Q. B. 208.
  • It would be an absurdity in law to hold that if a man draws another into a snare, the party suffering should have no remedy by action.
    • Heath, J., Tapp v. Lee (1803), 3 Bos. & Pull. 371.
  • I do not see any sound distinction between the case of money paid in a concern which is malum in se and money paid in a concern which is malum prohibitum. The latter as well as the former tends to encourage a breach of the law.
    • Heath, J., Aubert v. Maze (1801) 1 Bos. & Pull. 374.
  • Whatever may be the case in a Court of morals, there is no legal obligation on the vendor to inform the purchaser that he is under a mistake, not induced by the act of the vendor.
    • Blackburn, J., Smith v. Hughes (1871), L. R. 6 Q. B. 607.
  • As no Court has ever attempted to define fraud, so no Court has ever attempted to define undue influence, which includes one of its many varieties.
  • Fraud is an extrinsic collateral act which vitiates the most solemn proceedings of Courts of justice. Lord Coke says it avoids all judicial acts, ecclesiastical or temporal.
    • De Grey, C.J., Duchess of Kingston's Case (1776), 2 Sm. L. C. 687.
  • "Fraud," in my opinion, is a term that should be reserved for something dishonest and morally wrong, and much mischief is, I think, done, as well as much unnecessary pain inflicted, by its use where " illegality" and "illegal " are the really appropriate expressions.
    • Wills, J., In re Companies Acts; Ex parte Watson (1888), L. R. 21 Q. B. 309.
  • Secrecy is a mark of Fraud.
  • Fraus est celare fraudem: It is fraud to conceal fraud.
    • 1 Vern. 270.
  • Fraud is infinite in variety; sometimes it is audacious and unblushing; sometimes it pays a sort of homage to virtue, and then it is modest and retiring; it would be honesty itself if it could only afford it.
    • Lord Macnaghien, Reddaway v. Banham (1896), L. R. App. Ca. [1896], p. 221.
  • Fraud may consist as well in the suppression of what is true as in the representation of what is false. If a man professing to answer a question, select those facts only which are likely to give a credit to the person of whom he speaks, and keep back the rest, he is a more artful knave than he who tells a direct falsehood.
    • Heath, J., Tapp v. Lee (1803), 3 Bos. & Pull, 371; Park, J., Foster v. Charles (1830), 4 M. & P. 70.
  • Fraud is sometimes mere matter of fact, and sometimes the conclusion of law from facts.
  • There cannot be a greater Paradox, than that a man should be guilty of a fraud in lending his money with no other prospect but the chance of being repaid it.
  • No man shall set up his own iniquity as a defence any more than as a cause of action.
    • Lord Mansfield, Montefiori v. Montefiori (1762), 1 William Blackstone 363.
  • A man shall not avail himself of an iniquity or blunder of his own. Allegans turpitudinem suam shall not be heard.
    • Lord Mansfield, The King and Borough of Portsmouth (1774), Lofft. 553.
  • You shall not stipulate for iniquity. All writers upon our law agree in this, no polluted hand shall touch the pure fountains of justice.
    • Wilmot, L.C.J., Collins v. Blantern (1767), 2 Wils. 341.
  • No man can avail himself of his own fraud to avoid the law. We have instances even in the criminal law where a man shall not be permitted to avoid the law by fraud.
    • Grove, J., Doe v. Carter (1799), 8 T. R. 302.
  • As to relief against fraud, no invariable rules can be established, Fraud is infinite; and were a Court of equity once to lay down rules, how far they would go, and no farther, in extending their relief against it, or to define strictly the species or evidence of it, the jurisdiction would be cramped and perpetually eluded by new schemes, which the fertility of man's invention would contrive.
    • Lord Hardwicke in a letter to Lord Kaims, quoted by Mr. Justice Story, 1 Story Eq. § 186 n.
  • You cannot imply an authority to do an illegal act.
    • Jessel, M.R., In re Parker (1882), L. R. 21 C. D. 417.
  • You may discuss the question of legality on legal grounds, but not by an argumentum ad hominem.
  • Fraud is the daughter of greed.

See also

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