This article was written by Andrew Fraser - Senior Associate - Canberra

Andrew works in the areas of criminal law and traffic law, providing practical advice in all of his clients’ matters. Andrew has, over many years, developed positive working relationships with prosecutors, magistrates and judges. His no-nonsense approach means he has a reputation for putting forward the best case possible for clients. Andrew has won many matters for his clients, including...

Fraud - Using False Document

In the ACT, it is an offence to use a false document with the intention of obtaining a financial gain. In the ACT the maximum penalty for using a false document is 10 years imprisonment and/or a fine of 1000 penalty units.

What Is Fraud – Using False Document?

The offence of Fraud – Using a False Document is defined in Sections 347, 348 and 349 of the Criminal Code Act 2002. A person commits the offence of using a false document when they use a document that they know is false with the intention of obtaining a gain or causing a loss or to influence the exercise of a public duty.

Under Section 348 of the Criminal Code Act, it is an offence to possess a document that you know is false with the intention that someone else will use it and this will lead to a gain, cause a loss or influence the exercise of a public duty.

Section 349 states that it’s an offence to make or modify a device, material or something else knowing that it is capable of making a false document, even if the device was not originally intended to be used for making a false document.

Under this section it is also an offence if you have the intention that someone else will use the thing for fraudulent purposes or to possess something that you know is designed to make false documents.

A person will not be found guilty of this offence if they have a reasonable excuse for possessing the device, material or other thing.

Related Offences

Section 350 outlines the offence of False Accounting and states that a person commits an offence if they dishonestly destroy, damage or conceal an accounting document and do so with the intention to obtain a gain or cause a loss. A person commits an offence if they collaborate in the creation of modification of an accounting record, knowing it to be false and do so with the intention of obtaining a gain or causing a loss.

Under Section 351, it is an offence for an officer of a body to publish or collaborate in the publication of a document that is false or misleading and to do so with the intention to deceive members or creditors of the body about its financial affairs. The maximum penalty is 700 penalty units or 7 years imprisonment.

What Actions Might Constitute Using A False Document?

  • Falsifying qualification to show at a job interview.
  • Seeking a bank loan with falsified payslips.
  • Seeking concession discounts with a Centrelink card you have manufactured yourself.
  • Signing someone else’s name on a document – for example, signing a bank loan application as the other party so it appears as if both parties agree to the loan application.

Relevant Cases

Paycorp Payment Solutions Pty Ltd v Peter Singyin Chai (No 3) [2011] NSW 1632 dealt with an individual who had forged a signature on a letter of resignation which was subsequently lodged with ASIC. The effect of this was that the letter contained the resignation of a sole director of a company.

The Estate of Juliana Voros; Cooney & Ors v Cherry [2016] NSWSC 1603 dealt with a forgery of a signature on a will.

What The Police Must Prove

  • that the accused made a false document;
  • that they did so with the intention that you or another person would entice another person to accept it as genuine; and
  • that because it is accepted as genuine, the accused would obtain a gain or cause a loss; and
  • influence the exercise of a public duty.

Possible Defences To Fraud – Using False Document

  • that the documents were not false or that you did not have knowledge that the documents were false;
  • that no advantage was gained, no disadvantage was done and no public duty was influenced;
  • that you acted under duress.

Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?

All matters of Fraud – Using False Document will be dealt with in either the ACT Magistrates Court or the ACT Supreme Court.

When a matter is dealt with summarily (in the Magistrates Court) the maximum penalty is $15,000, five years imprisonment or both. When the matter is dealt with on indictment (in the Supreme Court) the maximum penalty could be imposed.


The maximum penalty is $15,000 penalty units and/or 10 years imprisonment; however the court can impose any of the following penalties:

If you require legal advice about fraud or any other legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal on 1300 038 223 or send us an email.


If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.


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