FALSE PRETENCES, criminal law. False representations and statements, made with a fraudulent design, to obtain " money, goods, wares, and merchandise-" with intent to cheat. 2 Bouv. Inst. n. 2308.
2. This subject may be considered under the following heads:. 1. The nature. of the false pretence. 2. What must be obtained. 3. The intent.
3. - 1. When the false pretence is such as to impose upon a person of ordinary caution, it will doubtless be sufficient. 11 Wend. R. 557. But although it may be difficult to restrain false pretences to such as an ordinarily prudent man may avoid, yet it is not every absurd or irrational pretence which will be sufficient. 2 East, P. C. 828. It is not necessary that all the pretences should be false, if one of them, per se, is sufficient to constitute the offence. 14 Wend. 547. And although other circumstances may have induced the credit, or the delivery of the property, yet it will be sufficient if the false pretences had such an influence that, without them, the credit would not have been given, or the property delivered. 11 Wend. R. 557; 14 Wend. R. 547; 13 Wend. Rep. 87. The false pretences must have been used before the contract was completed. 14 Wend. Rep. 546; 13 Wend. Rep. 311. In North Carolina, the cheat must be effected by means of some token or contrivance adapted to impose on an ordinary mind. 3 Hawks, R. 620; 4 Pick. R. 178.
4. - 2. The wording of the statutes of the several states on this subject is not the same, as to the acts which are indictable. In Pennsylvania, the words of the act are, "every person who, with intent to cheat or defraud another, shall designedly, by color of any false token or writing, or by any false pretence whatever, obtain from any person any money, personal property or other valuable, things," &c. In Massachusetts, the intent must be to obtain "money, goods, wares, merchandise, or other things." Stat. of 1815, c. 136. In New York, the words are "money, goods, or chattels, or other effects." Under this statute it has been holden that obtaining a signature to a note; 13 Wend. R. 87; or an endorsement on a promissory note; 9 Wend. Rep. 190; fell within the spirit of the statute; and that where credit was obtained by false pretence, it was also within the statute. 12 John. R. 292.
5. - 3. There must be an intent to cheat or defraud same person. Russ. & Ry. 317; 1 Stark. Rep. 396. This may be inferred from a false representation. 13 Wend. R. 87. The intent is all that is requisite; it is not necessary that the party defrauded should sustain any loss. 11 Wend. R. 18; 1 Carr. & Marsh. 516, 537.