Common Definition of Fraud
Most people view fraud as “an act of deceiving or misrepresenting.” See http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fraud. This colloquial use of the term “fraud” causes many people to believe that if someone said something that is untrue, then that person has committed fraud. The term “fraud,” as a legal term, is much narrower than this common understanding.
Legal Definition of Fraud
In order for fraud to exist legally, then the elements of a fraud cause of action must exist. “The elements of an action in deceit based on fraudulent misrepresentation are: (1) a representation; (2) concerning a presently existing material fact; (3) which was false; (4) which the representor either (a) knew to be false, or (b) made recklessly, knowing that he had insufficient knowledge upon which to base such representation; (5) for the purpose of inducing the other party to act upon it; (6) that the other party, acting reasonably and in ignorance of its falsity; (7) did in fact rely upon it; (8) and was thereby induced to act; (9) to his injury and damage.” Dugan v. Jones, 615 P.2d 1239 (Utah 1980). For fraud to exist legally, it is not enough for a statement to be false. There must be both an intent to deceive and damages cause by reliance on the false statement.
Even if all the elements of fraud are not met, there may be alternative but similar legal theories that could be proven, such as claims for negligent misrepresentation or fraudulent non-disclosure.
“In all averments of fraud or mistake, the circumstances constituting fraud or mistake shall be stated with particularity.” Utah Rules of Civil Procedure 9(b). For fraud to be properly alleged with particularity, Plaintiff “must state with particularity the circumstances supporting each element of fraud.”
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