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Relationship Fraud Losses and Claims from Deceit
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Are you a victim of fraud?
Relationship fraud occurs where a power imbalance exists because of age, incapacity, family, marital, employment or dating circumstances, or the exploitation of desires in other situations.
Though relationship scams commonly occur in apparent romantic relationships, they can also be committed by friends, family, service providers, or anyone with whom an individual is emotionally attached.
Dating fraud has become more prevalent in the age of social media and online dating. In modern times, relationships are fast-paced and trust is often gained quickly. With this, unfortunately, comes the risk that a perpetrator may take advantage of one’s trust and generosity. Victims often feel embarrassed and hesitant to tell their story in a legal setting, but victims should be aware that legal remedies often are available.
How & Why Relationship Fraud Happens
Relationship fraud manifests itself in a variety of different forms, but the basic premise of gaining trust to gain money remains the same. Often early on in the relationship, requests for money or an “investment” are made. When the scheme is long-term, the fraudster may commonly begin with legitimate exchanges, deals, or investments, which suddenly and without warning turn illegitimate. Promises of wealth, marriage, prosperity, or happiness are given to manipulate and coax victims into providing access to assets and funds.
The fraudster may have induced false investments in the context of real estate deals or business dealings, or fraudulently misrepresented themselves or their intentions in order to secure access to property, assets or cash. Regardless of which method of scamming was used, the fraudster likely failed to document, or purposefully kept inaccurate, incomplete, or altered records.
Lawyers at Gilbertson Davis LLP can inform you of the legal consequences of any of the above scenarios.
Legal Remedies for Relationship Fraud
In Ontario, civil lawsuits for the victims of fraud are often framed as claims for deceit, fraudulent misrepresentation, civil conspiracy, breach of contract, unjust enrichment or restitution. Increasingly though, plaintiffs in lawsuits simply claim damages for losses arising directly from the tort of civil fraud arising from a scheme.
Gilbertson Davis LLP has experience in obtaining various urgent equitable remedies that may be available. Freezing orders (Mareva Injunctions) may be used to ensure the fraudster cannot access or shift their assets until judgment is obtained, and in some instances a world-wide freezing order may be granted. Inspection orders (Norwich Orders) allow Plaintiffs to inspect and preserve evidence that was in the possession of a third party, such as bank accounts. When the scheme involves property, a Certificate of Pending Litigation provides notice that there is a disputed interest over that land, which effectively prevents the selling, transferring, or re-financing of that property while the litigation is ongoing. Asset tracing orders have also been a practical tool to allowing the recovery of the victim’s assets. In the right circumstances, these urgent remedies will be granted and can lead to early resolutions.
Traditionally civil litigation is expensive, time-consuming, and emotionally draining. However, the Court has recognized the need to improve access to justice through summary judgments. In the Rules of Civil Procedure at Rule 20, a motion for summary judgment can be brought, and will be granted when there is no genuine issue requiring a trial and it is in the interest of justice to hear the matter.
The Court’s powers have been expanded to include the ability to weigh evidence, evaluate credibility, and draw reasonable inferences from the evidence at the summary judgment stage, as opposed to previously where this only occurred at the trial stage. Hryniak v. Mauldin provides a recent example of the Supreme Court of Canada using summary judgments to achieve more efficient, inexpensive, and proportionate outcomes in an instance of civil fraud. In the aftermath of Hryniak v. Mauldin, the role of summary judgments in the civil justice system was expanded and it remains a viable avenue for victims of fraud to consider when deciding to pursue their dispute. In conjunction with various other urgent remedies available, a resolution to one’s relationship fraud dispute may occur significantly earlier and at lesser cost than litigation through to trial.
Gilbertson Davis LLP
If you have been a victim of relationship fraud and have experienced significant monetary loses as a result, please contact Gilbertson Davis LLP. Gilbertson Davis LLP has over 35 years of practice in Toronto, Ontario dealing with various related practice areas. We are ethical, professional, and practical. We strive to resolve our clients disputes early and efficiently through the provision of quality legal services at reasonable rates.