where-s-the-money-gone-1513359Fraud victims often feel embarrassed, humiliated and helpless once they realize that they have been victimized. Business, internet and other fraud schemes are so pervasive that the FBI has outlined and notified the public of  four categories of fraud schemes, each of which may target a business as well as an individual, as (1) Common Fraud Scams, (2) Investment Related Scams, (3) Internet Scams, (4) Senior Citizen Targeted Scams.

From a legal standpoint, a  fraud occurs in Florida when: (1) a person makes a false statement regarding a material fact; (2) that person knew or should have known that the representation was false; (3)  that person intended that the representation induce the other party to act on it; and (4) the other party suffered damages in justifiable reliance on the representation. Jackson v. Shakespeare Found, Inc., 108 So.3d 587, 595 (Fla. 2013).  Small businesses may be defrauded by vendors, suppliers, creditors, customers, employees and others.  One of the most common and devastating sources of small business fraud in Florida occurs between and among business partners.

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contract-1426885Generally, for a person to recover damages under a theory of breach of contract, that person has to prove that the other party committed a “material” breach of a contract causing damages to the plaintiff.  Normally, a failure to perform a certain important task before a required contractual deadline would constitute a material breach if the contract states that “time is of the essence”.  However, many people write their own contracts without the assistance of a lawyer or have no written contract at all.  The result is that the contract may not contain the necessary terms to establish that time is of the essence or the contract does not state a time for completion of performance by the other person.

So what happens if performance does not occur for a long time but there is no deadline in the contract?  Can the non-performing party be held in breach?

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