Bank fraud is a white-collar crime often charged at the federal level because
it affects the nation’s financial institutions. As such, it carries
heavy penalties. Facing charges of bank fraud can be a terrifying experience
– having the support of an experienced Lincoln and Omaha criminal
defense attorney can make a difference.
What Is Bank Fraud?
Bank fraud is defined as using deception to steal money or assets from
a bank, financial institution, or a bank’s depositors. For legal
purposes, a financial institution includes credit unions and banks that
are federally insured. This includes Federal Reserve banks, the Federal
Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), mortgage lending agencies, and other
institutions that accept deposits of money or other financial assets.
In general, bank fraud may involve any deliberate action aimed at defrauding
a financial institution. It may involve an intentional action aimed at
receiving assets, money, securities, credits, or property from a financial
institution through the use of pretense or false information. The law
provides a fairly broad definition of bank fraud, and there are several
facets of this offense that should be considered.
Types of Bank Fraud
There are many different types of bank fraud prosecuted under federal law.
The U.S. Secret Service Agency is responsible for investigating bank fraud
and ensuring the security of the nation’s financial institutions.
Each year, the agency performs its duties by investigating cases of bank
fraud, as well as identity theft, automatic payment systems fraud, check
forgery and alterations, direct deposit fraud, and counterfeiting.
Common types of bank fraud include:
- Fraudulent loans
- Bank impersonation
- Stolen checks
- Internet bank fraud
Forgery falls under the definition of bank fraud when a person changes the name
or alters the information on the face of a check. This may include adding
a zero to the original amount (thus increasing its actual worth), or forging
a person’s signature to deposit or cash a check. In addition,
fraudulent loans involve using a false identity to obtain a loan, or using false information
on a loan application. If a person takes out a loan with the intention
to file for bankruptcy soon after, this also counts as bank fraud.
Bank impersonation occurs when a person sets up a fake financial institution or creates a
website to lure people into depositing funds. Another type of bank fraud involves
stolen checks. People who have jobs at a post office, corporate payroll company, tax
authority, or other station with access to checks may commit bank fraud
by stealing those checks, opening a fake bank account, and depositing
the checks into their phony accounts. In addition,
internet bank fraud involves creating a fake website that looks like a legitimate banking
site to trick people into depositing money.
Penalties for Bank Fraud
As a federal offense, bank fraud carries serious penalties. The U.S. Code
§ 1344 sets forth the standards for penalizing people convicted of
bank fraud. Essentially, a person convicted of bank fraud will face fines
and prison time. The severity of the penalties will depend on the specific
facts of the crime, such as how much money was stolen and what technique
was used to steal the money.
The code states that a person convicted of bank fraud:
- May be fined up to one million dollars
- May receive a prison sentence of up to 30 years
In order to reach a conviction of bank fraud, the prosecution must show
that the defendant willfully and knowingly committed the action. For example,
if a person made false representations or submitted a check with forged
information, but did not realize the information was incorrect, that person
may not be convicted of bank fraud. It must be clearly proven that the
defendant knowingly and intentionally made false statements, submitted
forged checks, or made misrepresentations with the goal of stealing money
or assets from a financial institution.
Seek the Knowledgeable Representation of an Omaha Bank Fraud Lawyer Today
Since 1965, Berry Law Firm has represented hundreds of clients against
charges of bank fraud and other federal and white collar crimes. People
charged with a crime can benefit from the efficient and informative services
of an experienced Omaha criminal defense attorney. The legal team at the
Berry Law Firm is committed to providing aggressive representation on
behalf of clients, and can use their 100+ years of legal experience to
fight for defendants against charges of bank fraud across Nebraska.
Contact Berry Law Firm
today for a confidential consultation.