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If you or a loved one is facing a first time investment fraud allegation, experiencing an overwhelming mix of emotions, plus urgency to start your legal response, is completely natural. Investment fraud is a very serious offence and it is treated equally as seriously by English courts, so promptly appointing an experienced defence solicitor is essential. This article aims to unpick what happens in a first time investment fraud case. We outline the legal elements of investment fraud, provide some examples, explain sentencing for first-timers, and weigh imprisonment risks. We also outline how to get in touch with our team for robust legal assistance if your case looks like it is going to proceed.
The most common investment fraud offences include fraud by false representation, fraud by failing to disclose information, and illegally operating fraudulent schemes.
For a conviction, the prosecution generally must prove:
Penalties can include unlimited fines and up to 10 years’ imprisonment. Cases typically involve technical complexity, meaning prosecution often occurs in the Crown Court. Sentencing will account for factors like the number of victims and losses caused when determining fines and imprisonment terms.
Examples of this offence include:
If you are suspected of investment fraud in the UK, specifically under English law, you are most likely to face investigation and potential prosecution under laws like the Fraud Act 2006 and Financial Services Act 2021.
Here’s a general outline of what could happen:
If you are facing such accusations, consult a reputable investment fraud solicitor immediately as the exact process depends on your specific situation and there could be serious personal and professional consequences.
Investment fraud involves scams that induce investors to put money into fraudulent schemes, artificially inflated assets, or nonexistent opportunities. It is prosecuted under the Fraud Act 2006, Financial Services Act 2021, and other laws, depending on what activities constituted the alleged fraud in the first place. Typically, the maximum sentence to be faced is 10 years’ imprisonment.
Aggravating factors like large scale fraud, sophisticated operations, targeting vulnerable victims, and abuse of authority can lengthen sentences. Mitigating factors, such as a guilty plea, cooperation with authorities, no previous convictions, showing remorse, or having acted under duress may reduce them.
In addition to fines and asset seizure, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) can impose bans, withdraw operating licences, and restrict promotions.
Here are some potential defences that can be raised in response to allegations of investment fraud:
Investment fraud is a serious offence with significant legal and financial consequences, not just for the person being prosecuted, but for their families, businesses, and other stakeholders as well. If you are facing allegations of investment fraud, seeking immediate legal advice from an experienced fraud solicitor is essential so that you can understand the specific defences available to you and to navigate the legal process effectively.
Predicting whether a first time investment fraud offence could result in imprisonment is difficult, as numerous factors are considered during sentencing. The scale and sophistication of the scam are key considerations – large deceptions involving multiple victims are viewed extremely harshly. The losses caused to investors and damage to public trust in markets will also be assessed, with substantial impacts increasing chances of custody.
Mitigating factors like admissions of guilt, cooperation with investigations, demonstrating remorse and attempting to repay investors, may assist first-time offenders in arguing against immediate prison. Skilled defence solicitors can present these factors to potentially warrant a suspended sentence instead.
All that said, aggravating factors like false accounting, obstructing probes, involvement in organised financial crime, or abusing authority point towards harsher punishments, even for first-time offenders. While judges can give a suspended sentence for some opportunistic scams, they are very reluctant to do so for deliberate large-scale investment frauds given the gravity of the crime.
Anyone facing prosecution should obtain expert advice from an experienced investment fraud defence lawyer on realistic prospects of imprisonment based on in-depth analysis of comparable cases. This provides the best opportunity to avoid a custodial sentence through robust presentation of mitigating factors.
If you or someone you care about is facing prosecution for investment fraud, specialist legal advice early on could make all the difference. For those without prior convictions, charges might even be able to be dropped before going to trial, in some cases. Contact Stuart Miller Solicitors today for a free consultation.
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We will take early action to end proceedings as soon as it is practically and legally possible to do so.
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