FRAUD & STATE SPECIFIC CONSUMER FRAUD
Common law Fraud
Traditional "common law" fraud typically consists of the following components. The person complaining of injury (plaintiff) must allege and prove the wrongdoer (defendant) made a representation that it knew was false, that the defendant intended for the plaintiff to rely on the false representation, the plaintiff did not know the representation was false and relied on the representation, and that the plaintiff suffered an injury as a result. Proving that the offender intended to mislead the victim can often be difficult. A victim who can prove fraud may recover actual damages and punitive damages.
new jersey consumer fraud act
New Jersey's Consumer Fraud Act broadly prohibits any business from engaging in an unconscionable commercial practice, fraud, deception, and misrepresentation. To prove a claim for violation of the Consumer Fraud Act the consumer must show an act of unlawful conduct by the offending party, an ascertainable loss by the victim, and that the conduct of the offending party caused the loss. The key difference between the Consumer Fraud Act and common law fraud is that the consumer does not need to prove intent and the consumer need not be actually misled by the offending business. Prohibited conduct generally includes:
- Bait and switch transaction where the consumer is promised one thing and gets something different.
- A mortgage company cannot enter into a loan modification agreement, collect payments from the homeowner and then refuse to honor the agreement.
- A landlord cannot raise rent beyond an amount predetermined by statute or contract.
- The failure to provide required disclosures for a transaction such as disclosures accompanying financing.
A consumer that proves a violation of the consumer fraud act is entitled to trebbled damages, meaning three times the actual damages suffered. The victim is also entitled to recovery of court costs and reasonable attorney fees.
massachusetts consumer Protection act
Often referred to as "Chapter 93A" the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act provides strong protections for consumers injured by a business in Massachusetts. The statute prohibits businesses from a wide range of conduct described as "unfair and deceptive trade practices." Because the statute does not specify conduct that is prohibited, courts have offered their own interpretation. Prohibited conduct generally includes:
- Businesses are prohibited from saying false information or withholding material information from consumers.
- Businesses cannot charge a consumer a higher price/rate than advertised.
- Refund policies implemented by businesses must be clearly posted in a manner that is easily noticed and understood.
Before filing a claim for violation of Chapter 93A, the consumer is required to place the offending business on notice by sending them a formal letter outlining the claim. The consumer must wait 30 days after sending the letter before filing the claim. The purpose of the letter requirement is to encourage businesses to resolve disputes quickly without involving the courts.
A consumer that proves the conduct in question violated Chapter 93A is entitled to actual damages or $25, whichever amount is greater. If the consumer proves the misconduct was intentional, the damages must be doubled or trebled by the court. In every case in which a consumer proves a violation of Chapter 93A, the consumer is awarded court costs and reasonable attorney fees.
WHAT CAN NORTHEAST LAW GROUP DO FOR YOU
Whether in New Jersey or Massachusetts, Northeast Law Group has the proven experience to represent victims of fraud. Often, an act of fraud is also a violation of other laws and our understanding of the many statutes and claims available to consumers means that our clients receive broad representation to protect all of their rights and maximize the compensation received. If you or someone you know is the victim of fraud, constact Northeast Law Group for more information. Our representation is affordable and effective, putting the consumer first.