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In law, the deliberate misrepresentation of fact for the purpose of depriving someone of a valuable possession or legal right. Any omission or concealment that is injurious to another or that allows a person to take unconscionable advantage of another may constitute criminal fraud. The most common type of fraud is the obtaining of property by giving a check for which there are insufficient funds in the signer's account. Another is the assumption of someone else's or a fictitious identity with the intent to deceive. Also important are mail and wire fraud (fraud committed by use of the postal service or electronic devices, such as telephones or computers). A tort action based on fraud is sometimes referred to as an action of deceit.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on fraud, visit Britannica.com.