Civil Remedies for Victims of Fraud

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My name is Jeff Filliter and I am a Senior Investigator at Haywood Hunt & Associates Inc., with over 45 years of experience with the R.C.M.P., Scotiabank, and in private practice. I hold an honors degree in Administrative Studies (BA), with distinction, have been a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) since 1995, and hold a Private Investigator license for the Province of Ontario. I spent 23 years with the R.C.M.P., primarily in Commercial Crime units in Ontario, as well, I was in charge of the International Investigative Desk at one of Canada’s Major Financial Institutions.

I am an expert in Asset Tracing and Recovery; financial and white-collar crime; fraud; money laundering; terrorist financing; proceeds of crime; forensic investigations; risk management; and security.  I have provided expert testimony in both civil and criminal proceedings globally, and have been declared a professional witness in the U.K. in relation to wire transfer fraud.

The Civil Side

What is the most important resolution for victims of fraud? Is it to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice? Is it to assess your vulnerabilities with a view to mitigating against future attack? Is it to attempt to recover the funds that you have lost? Or, is it best to simply cut your losses, accept your fate, and move on? The reality is that, dependent upon individual circumstance, it could be any of the aforementioned resolutions, or a combination thereof.

In many cases when large corporate entities are victimized by fraud, the courts often view the actions as “victimless crimes”. Nothing could be further from the truth. Let’s say, by way of example, that a significant chartered bank is defrauded. Many would suggest that “these big banks can afford to lose a few million here and there. Who cares?” Those to espouse to these theories need to understand that no major corporation, regardless of their profit margin, willingly walks away from a significant loss. In fact, in most cases, the losses incurred are recouped by way of increased service and operational fees, which are passed along to the consumer. Bottom line, all consumers are victimized by significant fraud perpetrated against corporate entities. These are not “victimless crimes”.

When individuals are defrauded, initially they experience personal violation, shame, fear and uncertainty. They are faced with all of the questions detailed in the first paragraph, and often have no idea where to turn. Should they choose to bring the perpetrators to justice, the logical solution is to refer the matter to their local authorities. Unfortunately, law enforcement agencies across Canada are limited by way of available resources, and as a result are forced to turn away many reports of criminal activity. What is left for the victims?

Thankfully, although potentially costly, there is a solution. Canadian law allows for civil remedies – lots of them. The first step is for the victim to retain the services of a qualified litigator, with the intention of potentially filing civil suit against parties involved in the fraud. Recognizing their limitations, the lawyer should immediately hire a competent investigator whose role it is to conduct independent and objective inquiries for the following purposes: identify and collect evidence in support of the allegations of fraud; determine what documentation is available in support of the allegations; conduct interviews with a view to building an evidence brief; work with Counsel to create and execute civil remedies such as Anton Pillar Orders (civil search warrants), and Norwich Pharmacal Orders (demanding the release of documentation and information); conduct forensic flow of funds inquiries in an effort to identify assets attached to the fraud; work with Counsel to take seizure action on those assets, thereby providing the victim with a measure of recovery; work with the authorities to provide them with all evidence gathered, making a criminal investigation more palatable; conduct a fraud risk assessment aimed at identifying areas of vulnerability and mitigating those risks to protect against further attacks.

So, let’s review the areas of concern addressed in the opening paragraph, and what can potentially be resolved by way of the aforementioned civil process. The perpetrators could possibly be brought to justice as a result of the investigator and Counsel reporting their findings to the authorities, and working with them where appropriate. Vulnerabilities can be identified and shored up through the fraud risk assessment process. Funds could potentially be recovered as a result of the flow of funds inquiries, identifying proceeds of crime, and utilizing civil remedies to recover those assets.

Civil remedies provide possible resolution for all of these concerns, and are definitely worthy of consideration for those victimized by fraud. Victims can avail themselves of all of the aforementioned investigative services through Haywood Hunt & Associates. We are here to assist.

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