Swindling is a crime in which a person intentionally cheats or defrauds another of money or property, or otherwise obtains the money or property by fraudulent means. While some jurisdictions use this term in defining a crime, other jurisdictions use equivalent terms, such as fraud, to indicate the same sort of crime. The exact elements of the crime may differ among jurisdictions. This crime can involve substantial amounts of money or property with great value, so there may be civil repercussions from the act of swindling as well, often in the form of restitution paid to the victims of the crime.
The crime of swindling can occur in many different ways. For instance, an employee can swindle his or her employer by creating a scheme to deprive the employer of money or property belonging to him or her, such as creating false ledger entries to cover up stolen money. Filing false insurance claims in order to defraud insurance companies of money is a form of the crime. Passing counterfeit bills also qualifies as a type of swindling. Tax fraud, investment fraud, and securities fraud are other common types of crimes of this nature.
Swindling can involve either very small or large amounts of money or property. High level schemes can implicate multiple persons and victims, or can involve just one person and one victim. For instance, in the investment arena the crime can result in millions of losses to multiple victims. In other cases, a person may swindle an elderly relative out of the entirety of his or her estate, which can be substantial.
Committing this type of crime can have serious consequences. While some minor cases of swindling with no prior criminal record may result in a misdemeanor conviction that carries no jail time, more substantial or severe schemes may carry felony convictions. If convicted of a felony for swindling, a person can be subject to serious penalties, including substantial amounts of jail time. Whether a misdemeanor or a felony conviction results from committing this crime, there also may substantial financial repercussions, whether levied as part of the criminal proceedings in the nature of restitution, or resulting from a separate civil suit brought about by the value of the money or property involved in the swindling scheme. The penalties for committing this crime will depend upon the laws of the jurisdiction involved, the nature of the crime, and the value of the property.