A fraud is a false representation of a matter of fact which is intended to deceive another.
To prove fraud in court, a victim must prove each of the "five fingers of fraud":
- a person made a material false statement
- he knew the statement was false
- he intended to deceive the victim
- the victim justifiably relied on the false statement
- the victim was damaged
A material false statement is not limited to an affirmative statement that is false. Instead, it can also include concealment of what should have been disclosed.
In Medieval thought including Dante's Divine Comedy, fraud was a broad term used to describe any sin that involved the use of human intellect, including: seduction, flattery, simony, sorcery, political corruption (or barratry), hypocrisy, theft, evil counsel, sundering, forgery and deceit. These sins were known as 'minor fraud'; 'major fraud' was another name for treachery, which was considered to be the worst sin of all.