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Is it illegal to enter into a relationship using a false identity?

Saginaw, MI |

A friend was involved with her boyfriend/fiancee for almost 10 years and found out he was giving her a false name and false info about his personal life and business. They were living together a portion of that time and he asked her to marry him but it turns out he is married already. Does she have a civil case?

Attorney Answers 4


  1. Best answer

    Fraud is notoriously difficult to plead, and in part due to the requirement that the plaintiff establish and prove actual damages resulting from the fraud - real, measurable, financial ("monetary") damages. Her ability (or more likely, inability) to prove damages as a result of the fraudulent scheme will likely be fatal to her claim for fraud on a motion to dismiss. However, she may have a claim for IIED (intentional infliction of emotional distress), but there again she faces pleading and proving the difficult elements of an IIED claim, namely, the "extremity" of the shock and the "severity" of the resulting damage. Lying to someone about who they are to goad or keep them in a relationship certainly SOUNDS a lot more like IIED than a fraud claim; however, failure to prove damages is fraud's #1 nemesis, and, I surmise, the same would be true for your friend despite the objective and apparent unfairness of the situation.

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  2. The answer is maybe. It is definitely a bad situation and sounds like a "made for tv" movie plot, but whether or not is is a good case depends on what damages there are, if any, how sympathetic a witness your friend may be, whether or not the guy took any of her property (also part of damages) and most of all, what the guy has, if anything, to pay a verdict if she gets one. If you were talking about a celebrity defendant with a deep pocket and non-judgmentproof assets, then it could appear to be a fantastic case (poor innocent young woman gives up ten years of her life for a man who turned out to be a total fraud). But think about it. Even with the deception,
    can she prove that her life would have been financially different during those ten years? She was a consenting adult and wouldn't, presumably have stayed with the guy so long if he was a monster. He was just a liar. That could be seen as just a little bit worse or even better than some messy breakups without the lying. It is certainly worth going to a PI lawyer for a consult.

    This answer is not intended to be legal advice in a lawyer/client relationship. Misunderstanding of the answer or use of the answer for any illegal purpose is not the responsibility of the writer. The answer to any question in the Avvo website is constrained by the limited content of the question, an incomplete description of the facts underlying the question or a wrongful motivation for the question.


  3. In this case probably YES.
    He asked her to "marry" him and she "relied"
    on that information to her detriment (damages).
    He couldn't fulfill his promise as he was already
    married (impossibility).

    THIS ANSWER IS PURELY FOR ACADEMIC DISCUSSION ONLY AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE ANY TYPE OF LEGAL ADVICE OR LEGAL REPRESENTATION.


  4. What this man did was unethical. It sounds like she may have justifiably relied on his representation and this may have harmed her financially. Here is the big question: how much money does this man have? If he is wealthy, this might be a good lawsuit. I am available for a free initial consultation.

    John Toivonen
    Attorney at Law
    (517)402-5229

    If you are seeking legal advice, you should contact an attorney. Neither use of the information on this page nor an email to this office establishes an attorney-client relationship. Such relationship can only be established by an express agreement.

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