2023/10/06 What to Do in Recovery of Losses in Email Fraud Cases?
In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of technology crimes and the tricks used by fraudsters are ever-changing. In case a victim unwittingly and unfortunately falls into a scam by mistake and suffer financial losses, apart from seeking help from law enforcement agencies, how shall the victim claim recovery of his/her losses? In this Article, we would like to let the readers have a rough idea.
After learning the whereabouts of the money lost, the victim may generally seek to recover the losses from the person in possession of the money (”the Recipient”) through civil proceedings. Generally speaking, in the cases of email fraud the fraudsters are very likely to have fled after deceiving the victim into the scam, and the victim’s loss in the fraud cases will often go through several twists and turns before reaching the hands of the one (or more) Recipients. It follows that the Recipient(s) may not have any role in the scam, and may even also be a victim in the scam upon receiving the money. Accordingly, in considering to whom the money belong to, the Court usually has to take into account the cases of both the victim and the Recipient in order to make a fair judgement.
Step 1: Finding the whereabouts of the lost money
Therefore, the priority task of the victim generally is to ascertain the whereabouts of the lost money in the fraud to avoid further dissipation. The police officers may offer assistance in this regard. Upon knowledge of the fraud, law enforcement agencies may be able to trace the whereabouts of the money, and they may notify the bank(s) holding the money the fraud asking the banks not to deal with the money. Similarly, if the victim discovers that the lost money has been passed to another person, the victim may consider applying for an interlocutory injunction restraining such recipient to make use of the money.
Step 2: Applying for a Court order
However, the bank or the Recipient generally will not proactively return the lost money to the victim without a court order. The subsequent step for the victim shall be applying for relief from the Court to declare such money has been held for the victim. The Court shall consider a number of factors, including the particulars of the fraud, the flow of the money, and whether the application is contested. If the Court is satisfied that the money received by the Recipient is an unjust enrichment, the Court shall make an order in favour of the victim making the relevant declarations.
Step 3: Enforcement of Court orders
After obtaining the Court order, if necessary, the victim shall seek assistance from the bank to recover the lost money from the Recipient’s bank account(s). In most cases, the banks will adopt a neutral stance in such cases and follow the court order. Nonetheless, in case the banks object, the victim may have to make a further application to the Court for enforcement of order.
Depending on the factual matrices of the cases, the relevant proceedings can be highly sophisticated. In some cases the Court may also require expert evidence in the law in other jurisdictions. Accordingly, we advise the readers to stay alert to the fraud, and in case of falling into the scam, readers may seek legal advice promptly.
Please note that the information contained herein should be regarded for general reference only. If the readers do have enquiry on the related legal matters, please seek formal legal advice.