A considers herself to be a professional swindler. In one day, A conducts the following four scams.
A recently bought a six-pound crate of fake rubies from a dubious wholesale importer. From among these fake rubies, A selects the finest-looking, and then visits B, a local jeweler. She tells B that the (fake) ruby belonged to her grandmother, who always told her that it was “an expensive and genuine African sun heart ruby” too precious to set.
However, A also claims to be in dire financial straits, desperately needing a car. Too greedy for caution, and in exchange for the (fake) ruby, the jeweler transfers his own car’s title to A. However, unbeknownst to A, the fake ruby is actually a valuable, good-quality sapphire, which was coated in cheap red plastic for smuggling into the United States. Accordingly, the jeweler loses only $200 on the deal.
At 10 a.m. that day, A calls C, who believes A to be an expert stock broker. A offers to sell some stocks to C for twice their current value, falsely claiming to know that the stock is almost certain to triple in value the very next day. A tells C that she’s selling the stock to him as a favor. C agrees, and the two consummate the transaction.
A checks her bank accounts and realizes she does not have enough on deposit to cover the expenses associated with her next scam. A is, however, the trustee of a trust established for her young nephew’s education and support. (Assume that A thus has lawful possession of the trust assets, as well as a fiduciary relationship with both her nephew and the trust.) A decides to skim $5,000 off the trust, figuring that she could put the money back later, once the scam paid off, so that no one would notice.
At 1 p.m., A guts the car she got from B and sells all the parts. She then approaches D, offering to trade the car for D’s motorcycle. D does not realize that the car is now just a frame, so he makes the trade, giving A title to the motorcycle. A then gives D the keys and title to the car and rides off on her new motorcycle.
Assume that the prosecution can prove the above facts at trial, and that A acted with the required specific intent in each scam. Further assume that, in this jurisdiction, the seller of a vehicle has a legal duty to disclose, at the time of sale, any defects in the vehicle.
- In a common-law jurisdiction, in connection with each of Scams 1-4, is A liable for (1) embezzlement, (2) false pretenses, or (3) neither crime? Explain, applying only the common law and analyzing each scam separately. Do not apply the Model Penal Code (MPC), do not analyze A’s liability for any other crimes, and do not analyze any other issue that may be raised by the problem.