Factors Suggesting Fraud

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Some Factors Judges Look at to Determine Fraud

Creditors often challenge discharges of a debt in bankruptcy if related to fraud. However, fraud is not what a layperson may think is “fraud”.  Extrinsic, Intrinsic, constructive, failure to disclose, negligent misrepresentation, intentional, fraud by an agent, etc.

In the credit card context, that usually means that the creditor alleges that either the card was obtained by using false information, or, more frequently, that the use of the card by the debtor was fraudulent.  This is often something you can challenge in court.

Factors Suggesting Fraud

To decide whether a credit card charge was incurred by fraud, judges sometimes use a checklist of factors that suggest fraud, since there is seldom explicit evidence of dishonesty.

Those factors which the court weighs in making its decision are :

  1. the length of time between the charges and the bankruptcy filing;

  2. whether or not an attorney had been consulted concerning the filing of bankruptcy before the charges were made;

  3. the number of charges made;

  4. the amount of the charges;

  5. the financial condition of the debtor at the time the charges were made;

  6. whether the charges were above the credit limit of the account;

  7. whether the debtor made multiple charges on the same day;

  8. whether or not the debtor was employed;

  9. the debtor's prospects,

  10. whether there was a sudden change in the debtor's buying habits; and

  11. whether the purchases made were luxuries or necessities. See In re Dougherty, 84 B.R. at 657.

The factors used vary from circuit to circuit and the exact standard (if there can be said to be an "exact standard") differs depending on where the bankruptcy is filed.  Fraud in California may not the same as fraud in New York or Florida.


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