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Civil Theft and Conversion

Obtaining Property by Fraud

In addition to criminal laws, Florida has a specific set of civil laws governing property (cash and other assets) theft, which is defined as obtaining property by fraud or false pretenses. Before the Legislature passed these laws, theft was commonly referred to as conversion. Proving these and other “business crimes” is sometimes difficult, because the perpetrator typically hides documents and records, and taken steps to conceal the theft. I often use a private investigator for these purposes.

Legal Remedies for Civil Theft

The law gives you the ability to conduct discovery (obtain records, take depositions, bring the scofflaw into court for a hearing), obtain an injunction to stop your assets from being further transferred or hidden, and even seize the assets. Theft comes in many different forms, such as embezzlement, worthless checks, usury (illegally high interest), credit cards, notes and mortgages, and false advertising. It can be accompanied by bribery, extortion/threats, computer crimes, conspiracy and theft of trade secrets.