Business fraud in Illinois can take on many dimensions of wrongdoing, from violations of the Uniform Commercial Code to claims by individuals who claim that their business partners have defrauded them, and from deceptive practices perpetrated by enterprises against consumers to sham financial transactions.
Fraud in general involves some type of breach of trust or willful act of deception with the intent of gaining unfair economic advantage, causing financial damage or relieving business entities or individuals from their assets. It is important to understand that the elements of intent and loss must be present in fraud cases. The business partners of a small pizza shop in Chicago may be upset at the president’s blunders and mismanagement of funds, profligate spending and even gambling, but there must be evidence pointing to deceptive intent or ruse for a fraud claim to be entered.
Depending on the circumstances of each case, incidents of fraud can end up in civil or criminal court. One common dispute between business partners or even companies that do business with each other is over deceitful breach of contract or non-performance; such cases can be litigated in civil court. Consumers in Illinois who feel that they have been wronged by a commercial enterprise due to willful misrepresentation, omission or other types of sham practices can enter a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General. Such cases would require an investigation and could lead to a criminal proceeding.
The Laws in Illinois
Commercial entities, businesspeople and consumers in Illinois are protected by various laws and regulations. The Office of the Illinois Attorney General has ultimate enforcement authority over matters of unfair business practices and fraud. This office is sworn to protect consumers and businesses alike, and to this effect it handles complaints through its five specialized bureaus:
- Consumer Fraud
- Charitable Trust
- Health Care
- Military and Veterans Rights
The Illinois Attorney General provides consumer fraud hotlines in Chicago, Springfield and Carbondale. Many of the complaints presented to the consumer protection bureaus are alleged violations of the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act of the Illinois Compiled Statutes (805 ILCS 505).
With regard to business sales, deposits, leases, investment securities, and other matters pertaining to the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), the Illinois Secretary of State is the enforcement agency. In some cases, the Secretary of State can order law enforcement agencies in Illinois to investigate UCC fraud complaints.
Legal Representation in Business Fraud Cases
The Illinois Attorney General and the Secretary of State have enforcement powers and in some cases can order defendants to pay restitution or make reparations in fraud cases, but they do not offer legal representation. Law firms and business attorneys who specialize in commercial liability practice can be retained by individuals who feel they have been wronged by fraudulent activities. These legal professionals look at facts surrounding the case and can proactively seek fair compensation for their clients who have sustained damages caused by fraud.