Articles Posted in Identity Theft

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fraud Pic.jpgFraud comes in many forms, such as Internet fraud (scams), real estate fraud, and consumer fraud. Thousands of people are victims of fraud every day, leaving many with a deep gut-wrenching feeling, once they realize they’ve been mislead/scammed. If you have been a victim of fraud, you may be able to do something about it, legally.

After realizing you are a victim of fraud, the question becomes: how can I recover what I lost? If you decide to contact a lawyer to help you recover against whomever defrauded you, the essential question for your attorney is: how do I prove fraud? That task is not as easy as you may think.

Briefly, In Georgia, there are generally two types of fraud: actual fraud and constructive fraud. We will talk briefly about actual fraud, which involves five (5) key elements: (1) a false representation by the defendant; (2) knowledge that the representation is false or with reckless disregard as to whether it was true; (3) an intent to induce you to act or refrain from acting based on the knowingly false representation; (4) reasonable reliance by you on the knowingly false representation; and (5) damage done to you because you reasonably relied on the false representations made by the defendant.

The strength of your case will depend on how well the facts of your situation apply to the above-mentioned five elements, amongst other Georgia laws. Significantly, Georgia courts do acknowledge that fraud many times can be difficult to prove. Consequently, Georgia courts have recognized that fraud is, itself, subtle and therefore slight circumstances, and their supporting facts, may be sufficient to support a favorable verdict for the plaintiff, you.

However, not every act of fraud means that you have a claim against a defendant, in Georgia. For example, what if you suffered no damages due to the fraudulent act (see element five [5] above)? If there is no damage, then there may be no case. Or, what if you unreasonably and/or unjustifiably relied on a knowingly false representation (see element four [4] above)? If relying on a false representation makes no sense, given the surrounding circumstances, then, again, you may not have a case.

In addition, many times what people think is fraud, may not be recognized as such, by Georgia courts. For example, a mere breach of a contract does not necessarily amount to fraud. Bad faith in falling to carry out an obligation may not rise to the level of fraud, either. Then again, there are situations where breach of contract and bad faith do rise to the level of fraud and thus you may have a claim, which may involve punitive damages, which is an award of money given as punishment to deter future, similar conduct.

There are other issues to consider, such as statute of limitation concerns and constructing your complaint so that it meets the requirements of Georgia law.

I think you get the point: fraud cases can be very complex, so you need a good attorney that understands the law in this area. Williams Oinonen LLC can help maximize your recovery by evaluating your case thoroughly.
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Unfortunately, identity theft is on the rise. In the age of the Internet, many thieves are stealing username and passwords to break into online bank accounts and steal your money leaving no paper trail. This makes it even harder, by law, to hold banks responsible. While this is frustrating for consumers, causing credit report complications and disposable cash problems, victims who are business-account owners really get a bad deal: many federal regulations that protect consumer accounts such as the Electronic Funds Transfer Act do not protect business-account owners, regarding identity theft and subsequent illegal withdrawals.

The question for business-account owners is the following: how do you get your money back from your bank when someone steals your username and password and steals money out of your online business account, in Georgia? The answer depends on the facts of your case but here are some considerations that an effective attorney must address:

By law, generally banks in Georgia may not always have a fiduciary duty owed to their clients–a fiduciary duty is a duty owed because of a special relationship between, in this instance, the bank and its client. However, a fiduciary duty can be created, by law, if you have a contract with your bank that requires certain actions to be taken regarding your business account. That means the bank may have a higher standard of conduct owed to you.

For example, sometimes business owners open up business accounts that require special authorization before money or certain sums of money can be paid out from their business account. If that is the case, the bank “may” owe a fiduciary duty to you and be on the hook for money illegally withdrawn from your online account. Of course, other factors are involved.

In addition, while a contract may create a certain claim against your bank, what happens if you do not have a contract that created a fiduciary duty? An effective attorney must explore other claims and know what strategic approaches those claims require to be effective. For example, a claim of negligence could draw into question the bank’s security practices. In other words, did the bank use acceptable industry standards to protect your business account from being illegally broken into? Here, it is important to have an attorney knowledgeable about electronic discovery and computer forensics, amongst other things.
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