Describing deceit, trickery, sharp practice, breach of confidence, and the like,fraud is a widely used term in both law and common discourse. Legal usage, either civil or criminal, generally requires intentional deceit to gain advantage.

Although sometimes a part of ancient criminal law, fraud is generally not one of the first crimes to develop in a society. It was not one of the original felonies, for example, in medieval England's largely agricultural society. Only after trade and commerce developed did the Court of the Star Chamber begin to punish fraud and corruption. Civil remedies and specialized crimes soon evolved, but the first general fraud crime did not appear until 1757. In response to the rise of banking and the Industrial Revolution, Parliament created false pretenses—a crime ...

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