What are the Different Types of Theft by Deception?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 February 2020
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Theft by deception is the intentional use of false information to obtain goods, services, or valuable information from another person or entity. There are many different types of theft by deception, running the gamut from writing bad checks to Internet phishing scams. Businesses and individuals need to be wary of these fraudulent games, as falling victim to this type of theft can result in loss of property or even mortal danger.

Falsifying documents is one common type of theft by deception. This category of fraud-based crime includes the use of unlawful or forged checks, falsifying identification or bank documents, or even using fake references to get preferential rates or access to services not available to the general public. Intentionally writing bad checks or using revoked credit cards are very common examples of this type of theft, though a legal distinction is often made between an honest mistake and an intentional fraud. If the person knew he or she did not have the funds to cover a purchase, yet used checks or credit cards anyway, this is typically considered a form of theft.


Phishing scams are a popular and widespread form of theft by deception over the Internet. These scams involve sending out emails that appear to be from a legitimate company, such as a bank, claiming that the receiver needs to confirm or re-enter account details. In truth, the links in the email take the user to a controlled site, where personal data entered is recorded and used for identity theft. Similar scams may be conducted through the mail or even by phone, with fraudsters often claiming that they represent a legitimate organization in order to get personal details.

Intentionally obscuring information a victim needs to make a rational decision is another form of theft by deception. Ponzi schemes frequently use this tactic, by falsely informing investors that dividends are the result of new investor capitol, rather than investment fund success. If investors were aware that their dividend checks were coming through a rigged scheme, they might refuse to invest. The Bernie Madoff investment scandal of 2008, infamous for being one of the most financially devastating and widespread frauds in history, used a Ponzi scheme form of deceptive theft.

Most types of theft by deception rely on the victim's willingness to accept things at face value. Societal norms typically require people to place some level of trust in others in order to be polite. Nevertheless, caution is incredibly important in preserving personal and asset security from fraud. Validating all documents and claims made by any person or organization attempting to gain control over money, property, or information is the most basic and critical means of avoiding this type of crime.


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Post 1

I have a question.

In 2004, my brother and I decided to jointly (50 percent each) purchase two properties in Spain off-plan. They were due to be completed in the second semester of 2006 or by the end of December 2006 at the latest. We paid a 40 percent deposit for the properties = €180,084 euros, and the rest of the money was due to be paid upon completion of the properties being built.

In 2005 we had a falling out. Due to the properties being off-plan, only my brother had the purchase contract documents for them. (I had copies.) In the summer of 2006, my brother refused to acknowledge my 50 percent share in the two properties.

I had to

seek legal action against him and eventually had to take him to the high court in London. Through my brother’s delaying tactics, the court hearing did not take place until November 2007. During this time, my brother had told my solicitors that the developers in Spain had forfeited all of our money!

He also signed two witness statements to the high court and told the judge on the day of the hearing that all of our money had been forfeited.

He was ordered by the judge to authorize the release of all the paperwork from the developers and his Spanish solicitors. He had to sign documents to them confirming what the judge had ordered. He was also ordered to put any money that might be refunded into a trust account until the court had decided at another hearing where the money would go, minus my legal costs which I was also claiming back. He was also ordered to notify the court and my solicitors, "as soon as is reasonably practical" of any such refunds!

What my brother did not tell the court was that in January 2007, he had got his Spanish solicitors to take legal action against the developers for breach of the purchase contracts by not completing the properties by the end of 2006.

I was allowed to go out to Spain with the signed documents from my brother to get all of the documents that the judge had ordered to be released. Well, when I got to the developers and his Spanish solicitors, my brother had emailed and faxed them a letter to cancel his authorization to release the documents. In other words, he had ignored and revoked the High Court of London Judge’s orders!

Without any of these documents, my brother knew that I had no evidence against him to prove what had happened to our money. I did not have any more money to re-apply back to the high court to take any further action against my brother, since I had already spent over £12,000 in legal fees by this time.

My solicitors could not assist me any further without these extra funds, so I had to accept what my brother had done to me. Over the next five years, whenever my mum or my sisters or any other family members spoke to my brother about this, he always said that it was not just me who had lost everything, but that he had also lost "all of his money" as well.

By chance, in April of 2011, I saw a forum about people who had received a full refund from the same developers in Spain for them not completing their properties on time, as per clause 4.2 of the purchase contracts. This was the same clause that was in our contracts! Upon reading more on these forums, I came across a Spanish law firm that had successfully claimed their clients’ money back from the same developers under this clause.

I contacted them and arranged an appointment to see them in Spain. Upon meeting them, I gave them the copies of our purchase contracts from 2004, and they said that they would look into it for me. They got back in touch the following week to say that they had spoken to the developers about starting legal proceedings, and the developers said that all of the money for our properties had been refunded in "full in 2008".

I then asked the solicitors what could be done. They informed me that this was now a criminal matter and that they did not deal in this sort of thing. They told me that as my brother and I both live in the UK, and all of the monies were transferred from the UK and to notify the police from here.

In June 2011 I gave all of this evidence to my local police station and asked them to investigate it. They had to get permission from the UK courts to get the developers in Spain to release documents of when and where the money had been paid. They eventually got all of the evidence that they needed and arrested my brother in June 2013. My brother is now wheelchair bound, but is still as sharp as an arrow in the mind.

My brother denied everything until they showed him all of the proof that they had, that the money had been paid into two separate bank accounts in Spain! My brother all of a sudden "pretended" to feel unwell at the police station, and as they could not accommodate someone unwell in a wheelchair, they let his wife pick him up and take him home.

What the police have just told me is beyond belief! They say that they do not feel that they have enough "evidence" to charge my brother that would warrant them getting a "successful conviction" against him in a criminal court of law! I personally think it is because he is in a wheelchair, because until they arrested him and found this out. They were telling me all of the laws that he had breached and all of the evidence that they had against him. As you can imagine, I feel this is an outrageous decision from them!

From what I can see, my brother has committed fraud, theft deception, perjury and contempt of court, amongst many other things. Also, what about the court order saying that he was to notify them and my solicitors about any refunds ASAP -- not hide it away in two different Spanish bank accounts for nearly six years, and continually keep lying to members of family that we had both lost everything for all of these years. This also showed his deception, since we knew he was lying. I hope that someone can advise me what cause to take next. Thanks for your comments in advance.

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