What is Fraud and Consumer Fraud?

Although I do a significant amount of auto fraud litigation, the concept does not change with regard to the sale of any goods such as houses or any other consumer goods. Again, if you know the purchaser of the good would make a different decision and you fail to disclose and you know this, this would be deemed fraud.

This is particularly applicable to dealers in auto fraud litigation. In many, many cases which I litigate, it is alleged that the dealer knew that a vehicle had been damaged in transit or otherwise, whether the vehicle be new or used. You would be surprised of the number of cases where new cars were sold with transit damage. Clearly, if a new car has any damage, in my opinion, it must be disclosed since it is material to the transaction.

Once a vehicle has damage, I would consider this a used car rather than a new car. Although the law determines that a used car is one which had been titled, based on the use, I would submit that the vehicle would now be a used vehicle. In addition, on used vehicles, dealers are required to inspect them for safety under the law and especially the certified used vehicles undergo an extensive process. When the dealership sells one of its cars and they know they were damaged and fail to disclose them to the purchasing public, they commit an act of either fraud or consumer fraud.

The difference between fraud and consumer fraud is the burden of proof. Under consumer fraud, the plaintiff only has to demonstrate preponderance of the evidence and under fraud, clear and convincing. It is a significant difference. The legislator has chosen to deter this conduct by lowering the proof level on certain cases.

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