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What Makes A Civil RICO Claim Different From A Business Fraud Claim?


There has been a rise in civil RICO litigation in recent years. Under the federal RICO Act and the Florida RICO Act an individual or business that suffered losses due to illicit racketeering activity can seek justice and compensation. Additional compensation is available in a civil RICO claim—but it is more difficult to prove liability. Federal courts and state courts have consistently ruled that there are important distinctions between a RICO violation and fraud. Here, our Miami RICO claims attorney explains the key differences between a civil RICO claim and an ordinary business fraud claim.

Three Reasons Why Civil RICO Claims are Different than Ordinary Business Fraud Claims 

  1. A Plaintiff Must Prove the Existence of an Enterprise 

An enterprise is a required element of a civil RICO claim. A plaintiff in a federal civil RICO lawsuit or a state civil RICO lawsuit must prove that the defendant(s) carried out the racketeering activity as part of a formal or informal enterprise. If one person defrauds you in their individual capacity, that is not a civil RICO violation. No enterprise exists. You must establish some form of enterprise. 

  1. A Plaintiff Must Establish a Pattern of Racketeering Activity 

Federal and state civil RICO laws also require plaintiffs to prove that there was a pattern of racketeering activity. In effect, this means that a plaintiff must establish that the defendant(s), as part of an enterprise, carried out a pattern of similar illicit activities in order to commit fraud. Without a pattern of racketeering, a civil RICO claim will be dismissed. 

  1. A Plaintiff Can Seek Treble Damages and Attorneys’ Fees

Although it is more challenging for plaintiffs to prove a civil RICO violation than other types of fraud, there are significant advantages to doing so. Most notably, a plaintiff who is successful in civil RICO litigation can recover additional compensation. They may be entitled to treble damages (damages of three times their actual losses) and full reimbursement of reasonable attorneys’ fees.

 You May Have a Business or Consumer Fraud Claim 

Even if your claim falls short of racketeering activity, that does not mean that you are denied the opportunity to seek justice, accountability, and financial relief. There are a number of different causes of action that can be used to pursue fraud in Florida. You may have a common law fraud claim, a claim under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA), or a claim under another state or federal law. An experienced attorney can help you determine the best option. 

Contact a Civil RICO Lawyer in South Florida Today 

 At Pike & Lustig, LLP, we have extensive experience helping clients navigate the complexities of civil RICO law. If you have any questions or concerns about civil RICO violations or business fraud in general, our attorneys are available as a resource. Give us a call now or connect us directly online to arrange a strictly confidential case review. With office locations in Miami, Wellington, and West Palm Beach, we handle civil RICO disputes and civil RICO litigation throughout South Florida.

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