New Fraud Sentencing Guidelines

Fraud Act 2006


The Sentencing Guidelines Council have produced guidelines which aim to help those sentencing for fraud statutory offences introduced by the Fraud Act 2006, which provides maximum sentences of up to 10 years imprisonment.

Fraud offences generally involve offenders dishonestly intending to make a gain by exposing someone else to a risk of loss; the gain may be financial and/or involve other property. Fraud offences are diverse and there is an ever-increasing number of ways in which they can be committed.

The generic fraud offence introduced by section 1 of the Fraud Act 2006 was designed to capture all forms of fraudulent activity committed by individual offenders, including minor offences. However, other offences will continue to be prosecuted, thus the proposed guidelines include related offences.

The guideline applies to the sentencing of offenders aged 18 and over, convicted of statutory offences of fraud who are sentenced on or after 26 October 2009. The guidance aims to produce a coherent and consistent approach to sentencing all forms of fraudulent behaviour.

The following offences are covered in the guidelines and are grouped by type as follows:

Confidence Fraud:
Fraud Act 2006, s.1
Theft Act 1968, s.17

Possessing, making or supplying articles for use in fraud
Fraud Act 2006, ss.1, 6 and 7

Banking and insurance fraud, and obtaining credit through fraud
Fraud Act 2006, s.1Theft Act 1968, s.17

Benefit fraud
Fraud Act 2000, s.1
Theft Act 1968, s.17
Tax Credits Act 2002, s.35
Social Security Administration Act 1992, ss.111A(1), 111(1A), 111(1B), 111(1D) and 111(1E)

Revenue fraud (against HM Revenue and Customs)
Fraud Act 2006, s.1
Theft Act 1968, s.17
Value Added Tax Act 1994, ss.72(1), 72(3), and 72(8)
Finance Act 2000, s.144
Customs and Excise Management Act 1979, ss.170(1)(a)(i) and (ii), 170(1)(b), 170(2)(a), 170B, 50(1)(a), and 50(2)

However, the guideline does not cover the common law offence of cheating the public revenue, or conspiracy to defraud. Judges should continue to refer to existing guidance from the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) when sentencing for those offences.

When sentencing fraud offences, the seriousness of the offending behaviour is the primary consideration and the following must be taken into consideration as set out in section 142(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003;

  • (a) The punishment of offenders
  • (b) The reduction of crime (including its reduction by deterrence)
  • (c) The reform and rehabilitation of offenders
  • (d) The protection of the public, and
  • (e) The making of reparation by offenders to persons affected by their offences

However, the approach to sentencing types of fraud offence should be the same, regardless of how the offence was committed.

If you have any questions regarding the issues raised in the article or the new regulations regarding defendant costs awards from central funds please contact Sarah Wallace on 0370 1500 100 or 020 7421 3883.