Treble Damages For Obtaining a Loan By False Pretense

  A default judgment for obtaining a loan of $202,500 under false pretenses results in treble damages under Penal Code section 496. The case is Bell v. Feibush.

  Penal Code section 496(a) makes receiving or buying property “that has been obtained in any manner constituting theft” a criminal offense punishable by imprisonment. It further provides at subdivision (c) that any person “who has been injured by a violation of section 496a may bring an action for three times the amount of actual damages, costs of suit, and reasonable attorney’s fees.

  The Fourth Appellate District, Division Three held that a criminal conviction is not a prerequisite to treble damages liability under section 496 and further held the phrase “any manner constituting theft” under section 496(a) includes theft by false pretense.

  The court specifically noted that, because the appeal was from a default judgment, it did not address the sufficiency of the evidence or the burden of proof applicable to recovery of treble damages under section 496(c).

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2 thoughts on “Treble Damages For Obtaining a Loan By False Pretense

  1. I have a situation where a case was decided in State Court where a bank used fraudulent documents and attestments to obtain all the assets of my company (including patents and technology) that were above the cost of the loan. The bank used these same fraudulent documents to attempt to get money for the SBA Guaranty (2 years later), and was caught using fraudulent documents. In fact when I assisted the authorities in proving the fraud, i was threatened by the bank physically and financially.

    Most lawyers were stating that my case was stale since I had brought up the fraud by the bank in the initial case, but the Federal government has now agreed with me. Can I still go back for treble charges? or is there any way to retrieve money gained by the bank for selling the assets (they sold them to a shareholder of the bank and he is making and producing products and technology using my patents and software)?

    Any help is appreciated!

    • I have to agree with “most lawyers” in this instance. However, it would depend on the nature of the initial case, what was decided, the claims you made, and the length of the period of time between then and now. Fraudulent concealment, if the facts support it, and estoppel might be two theories which would help you get there.

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