You can have your say on changes to fraud sentencing

Attorney General

The NSW Sentencing Council has today released a consultation paper inviting submissions on whether laws about fraud sentencing should change, and how.

In September 2021, Attorney General Mark Speakman requested the NSW Sentencing Council carry out a review of sentencing for fraud and fraud-related offences and to make any recommendations for reform it considers appropriate.

After two rounds of preliminary consultations, the independent expert body has developed and is now seeking input on 26 questions, across 14 key areas for reform, that ask whether there is a case for changes to existing laws, what possible reforms might look like and why.

“This type of crime can have a devastating impact on those who fall prey to fraudsters, whether they be businesses or individuals,” Mr Speakman said.

“Fraud can cause great emotional distress, hardship and a loss of confidence, especially for the elderly and more vulnerable in our society.”

The Sentencing Council’s consultation paper outlines the key fraud and fraud-related offences and sentences that currently exist in NSW and asks whether these adequately address the needs of victims and the motivations of offenders.

Mr Speakman said it is estimated that millions of Australians are exposed to fraud each year, including scams, phishing and romance fraud, as well as white collar and large scale, organised operations.

“Often fraud involves a victim sending money or personal information to an offender, which can make the victim feel ashamed or embarrassed as well as guilty or personally responsible,” Mr Speakman said.

“In the case of romance fraud, the effect of betrayal combined with the embarrassment and shame that follows, can be enormously damaging, both psychologically and financially.

“Technology, the internet and booming online commerce have significantly changed how fraudsters prey on unsuspecting members of our community.

“In Australia, almost half a billion dollars was defrauded on credit cards alone in 2020, involving 1.4 million people.

“It is essential that our laws are fit for purpose and strike the right balance between protecting the community, reducing crime, and punishing and rehabilitating offenders.”

There are numerous fraud and fraud-related offences in NSW. The most frequently charged offences are those of dishonestly obtaining property by deception and dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage or causing a financial disadvantage by deception, each with a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment.

Under its terms of reference, the Sentencing Council was also asked to evaluate:

  • key sentencing principles and reasoning employed by judges;
  • the mitigating subjective features of offenders; and
  • any other significant factors considered in sentencing decisions that explain how courts come to their final decision on sentence.

Mr Speakman is encouraging all interested community members, legal and justice stakeholders and academics to make a submission on the Sentencing Council’s consultation paper.

The consultation paper and details on how to make a submission can be found on the Sentencing Council website. Submissions close on Friday, 4 November 2022.

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