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Obtain Benefit by Deception (NSW)

A person who, by deception, dishonestly obtains property belonging to someone else, or obtains a financial advantage or causes a financial disadvantage, is guilty of an offence. The maximum penalty for this offence is ten years imprisonment. The statutory alternative for the offence of obtain benefit by deception is the offence of larceny, which means that a person tried for obtain benefit by deception can be found guilty of larceny instead.

The legislation

The offence of obtain benefit by deception is contained in section 192E of the Crimes Act 1900 which states:

A person who, by any deception, dishonestly:

  • Obtains property belonging to another, or
  • Obtains any financial advantage or causes any financial disadvantage,

Is guilty of the offence of fraud.

Deception is defined as any deception, by words or other conduct, as to fact or as to law, including:

  • A deception as to the intentions of the person using the deception or any other person, or
  • Conduct by a person that causes a computer, a machine or any electronic device to make a response that the person is not authorised to cause it to make.

Dishonesty means dishonest according to the standards of ordinary people and known by the defendant to be dishonest according to the standards of ordinary people.

A person “obtains property” if:

  • The person obtains ownership, possession or control of the property for himself or herself or for another person, or
  • The person enables ownership, possession or control of the property to be retained by himself or herself or by another person, or
  • The person induces a third person to do something that results in the person or another person obtaining or retaining ownership, possession or control of the property.

“Obtain” a financial advantage includes:

  • Obtain a financial advantage for oneself or for another person, and
  • Induce a third person to do something that results in oneself or another person obtaining a financial advantage, and
  • Keep a financial advantage that one has, whether the financial advantage is permanent or temporary.

Cause a financial disadvantage means:

  • Cause a financial disadvantage to another person, or
  • Induce a third person to do something that results in another person suffering a financial disadvantage, whether the financial disadvantage is permanent or temporary.

What sorts of conduct may lead to a charge?

The following actions can form the basis of a charge of obtaining a benefit by deception.

  • Changing bank account details at your place of work so that you receive payment for services rather than the actual contractor;
  • Purchasing jewellery with a fake cheque;
  • Sending fake emails requesting payment of a bill and obtaining payment;

What must be proven

To find a person guilty of this offence, the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt.

  • That the person, by deception:
    • Obtained a financial advantage; or
    • Caused a financial disadvantage; or
    • Obtained property belonging to another; and
  • the obtaining of the property, advantage, or disadvantage was dishonest.

Possible defences

Possible defences to this charge include:

Which court will hear the matter?

This offence is a Table 1 offence which means that either the DPP or an accused can elect to have the matter dealt with in the District Court. If no election is made it will be dealt with in the Local Court.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

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