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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
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Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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I am a home student and I had a conversation with one of my

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Hello,I am a home student and I had a conversation with one of my university lecturers where I pretended to be an overseas student. The teacher didn't recognise me initially but once he did he was very angry. I then said my account had been hacked but I think he contacted the company and verified that it hadn't. He is now claiming a fraud case. I would like to know the legal stance on this.

What the reason behind you pretending to be someone else and what advantage did you again by the use of it?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
A lot of my overseas friends at uni had complained about teachers not helping them properly. I just wanted to see if this was true. I didn't gain anything from it as I personally didn't need his help and have already passed his class. I never asked for any money or anything corrupt from him

Thank you.

I will define fraud for you as it appears in the law dictionary from which you will see then that this is not fraud. He may not be very happy about it but he’s not suffered any loss and you’ve not suffered any gain.

Fraud = A false representation by means of a statement or conduct (that fits) made knowingly or recklessly (that fits) in order to gain a material advantage.

It is the latter part “in order to gain a material advantage” where his fraud claim falls down because you have had any advantage at all.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Please don’t forget to rate the service positive. It is an important part of the process by which experts get paid.

Best wishes.


Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you but the teacher said that he contacted Hotmail and told them that I had lied about the hacking and that he was going to pass on details to the relevant authorities. Can you please clarify the legal stance on this. I did lie about being hacked but will Hotmail really make a serious case about this?

You said that you had a conversation and pretended to be an overseas student. You haven’t hacked into anybody else’s account So There Is No Offence under the Computer Misuse Act

Admittedly, you lied with claim that You Are account had been hacked but, even if it had, and whilst Hotmail may taking issue with it, it seems unlikely they going to be particularly bothered firstly because the account wasn’t hacked and secondly, for the reasons I stated earlier, there is no material advantage and hence no fraud.

He may allege fraud but that’s only because he doesn’t know what fraud is.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
when he says that he contacted Hotmail and their representative was not happy with me lying, should I be worried about the company taking legal action or not?

I don’t know Hotmail’s involvement is in this.

If you reported hacking to Hotmail, they may close the account but I cannot see that they would bring any legal action anyway because it simply is not worth it.

If the lecturer reported hacking to Hotmail, then it’s nothing to do with him.

They may not be happy and Hotmail, but I think the worst thing that could happen is they would close the account.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The teacher has said that he has contacted hotmail and the company has confirmed that my account had not been hacked. I have a meeting with him on Monday and I think he will ask for details and then pass then onto Hotmail. I didn't solicit anything from him whilst doing this. If he passes my details on I won't get into legal trouble will I ?

There is no legal action to bring here and no criminal offence. There is nothing to worry about. The worst that can happen is that your account gets closed. To be honest, Hotmail are probably not that bothered.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
During the meeting, if he brings up that he spoke to hotmail and they weren't happy and asks for my details should I give them to him? and should I be fazed if he brings up potential legal action by hotmail?

You are under no legal duty to give him any information. I would not give him any account details. If you do, you are compromising your account.

If he brings up legal action by Hotmail just tell him that if they do, you will deal with it. We can help you with that. I would be very surprised if they even bothered.

When you get a moment please don’t forget to use the rating service so that I get paid. We can still exchange emails.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Okay so if he brings up legal action then I should just brush it aside? And you're absolutely that this is not a fraud case in any way ?

Would not actually brush it aside as such because that might annoy him even more. Express your “concern” and say that if he wants to do that, you have no choice and he will deal with them if they contact you. There is no need to expand.

There is no element of fraud here based upon what you’ve told me.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
When you gave me the definition of fraud you said that if I gained any material advantage then that would constitute it. What does material advantage mean exactly?

Literally what it says. Being better off than you were before a fraud. Usually financially but it could be an item (material)

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
All I really did was waste his time. He didn't send me any actual help and I didn't ask him for anything else. If he did indeed contact hotmail, then is it a matter between the company and myself or is the teacher involved aswell?

Nothing to do with the teacher. He actually had no right to report it as it isn’t his account. You could complain about him!

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I think he called hotmail to ask them to verify if my account actually did get hacked or not. Is he allowed to do this? And secondly are you sure hotmail won't take legal action over this?

You asked me three times now whether I’m sure that mail will take any action over this. My answer remains the same. I cannot see that they have any action to bring. There are no guarantees in law.

However if they discussed your account with the teacher, they are in breach of the Data Protection Act and you have a cause of action against them to complain to the Information Commissioner. They should not have told him anything that all and it may be that he is fabricating their replies to try to get you to trip yourself up.

We are beginning to go around in circles now.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I'm very sorry for asking the same question on more than one occasion it's just that this was just a big mistake on my behalf and when the teacher started bringing up fraud sand that he'd contacted hotmail to verify if my account had been hacked then it really worried me as I never thought the case would reach this stage

Let me clarify once and for all.

I cannot guarantee that Hotmail would take no action. I think it unlikely in the extreme.

It is nothing to do with the teacher if your account was hacked.

He has no right to speak to Hotmail about your account about anything at all.

They have no right to speak to him about your account and if they do, it’s a breach of the Data Protection Act and you can complain to the Information Commissioner.

There is no fraud simply because you pretended to be someone else and then, when you were tackled about it you said that someone had hacked your account.

There may be an issue between you and the teacher or the college with regard to professional conduct within the course, but that is nothing that would end up with you being in any kind of legal trouble.

Please don’t forget to use the rating service because I have not been paid on this yet. It doesn’t cost you anything but helps me greatly.Thanks

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
when the teacher emailed me saying that he'd contacted hotmail and asked them about hacking, do you think he was lying?

He could well have been

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
In one of his emails he said he'd contacted hotmail and asked them about hacking in general and not quoted my account specifically. Then he began emailing me saying fraud email check, is he allowed to ask hotmail about hacking in general and can they give him an answer?

He can ask what he likes in general but not specifically about your account

F E Smith and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for clarifying all of this. It's just when he bought up that he'd contacted hotmail and then claimed fraud I was very worried about the potential legal ramifications of this

Having read everything you’ve said, and everything that he said, I would not be the least bit concerned if I were you.