14. How does “good faith” affect fraud?
Fraud requires knowing and willful conduct carried out with the intent to defraud someone. As such, good faith in one’s actions is a defense to the allegations. The defense is that the defendant acted in good faith and did not have the necessary intent to defraud anyone. It does not matter that a person’s statement or belief is wrong, there is no action for fraud unless intent is deceive is present. Further, an individual’s lack of due care in making a statement is not relevant in determining fraud.
• Discussion: How do you feel about the mental intent requirement for a charge of fraud? Do you think a person should be able to escape a criminal fraud charge if she is reckless in her actions? What if she recognizes that her assertions are extremely unlikely, but she leads a customer or client to believe that the unlikely result is reasonably certain?
• Practice Question: Mitchell owns a baseball card of Mickey Mantle. He believes that the card is an original rookie card. He offers to sell the card to Amy for $1,500. Amy buys the card. No long afterward, she has the card inspected and learns that it is simply a reproduction of the original card and is not worth any money. She is angry at Mitchell and asks your opinion on whether she should report the incident to the police. Has Mitchell committed fraud? Why or why not?