Fraud and Silence

Can you commit fraud by maintaining silence?

The simple answer to this is yes. Under New Jersey law, you can commit fraud or consumer fraud when there is a fact which a seller of a good knows will be relevant to the purchaser’s decision, and as a material fact to the transaction, failure to disclose same will be considered fraud if the claimant can prove intent.

In simple words, if you know something is important and do not tell the other person and their decision on the particular transaction would change based on that information, it is fraud, assuming it was done intentionally.

There are many examples of both in- and out-of-state cases where the failure to disclose certain information was considered fraud. As an example, failure to disclose that a car had sustained damage in accident, failure to disclose engine damage, failure to disclose defective brakes, failure to disclose that a new had been damaged in transit and repaired, failure to disclose that the vehicle had been used as a racing vehicle, failure to disclose MSRP, failure to disclose that the odometer was inaccurate, failure to disclose mileage properly under a circumstance that required the dealer knew about the discrepancy, statements made recklessly or carelessly with any reasonable ground for a belief, and truth as to the mileage constitutes intent to defraud. These cases are from Massachusetts, Texas, Illinois, Washington, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.

Nonetheless, the concept is simple. If something is important, it would make a difference as to the nature of the transaction one must disclose this information.

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