Criminal Law - Federal
What Is Bank Fraud?
As a customer, you may appreciate the ease of online banking. You can even use your cellphone to transfer money to your accounts. However, bank fraud involving online banking is on the rise. Some see it as an opportunity to get money from large financial institutions with little risk of getting caught.
However, if you do get accused of bank fraud, a conviction can mean serious time in federal prison. If you are under investigation for bank fraud, contact a federal criminal defense lawyer for legal advice as soon as possible to protect your rights.
Bank fraud is considered a white-collar crime. It is also a federal crime. Bank fraud occurs when someone knowingly attempts to fraudulently obtain money, credit, or other property from a financial institution. Bank fraud can also occur when someone defrauds a financial institution by acting as if they are representing a different bank.
To prove bank fraud, a federal prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intentionally tried to or successfully executed a plan to obtain money or property from a financial institution. This can include acts like:
- Giving false information to a bank
- Using another person’s bank account information
- Trying to fraudulently gain funds through a loan application
If you find yourself facing this type of allegation, make sure you get legal advice from an attorney with experience in white-collar crime.
Bank fraud and robbery are similar federal crimes because they both involve stealing from an FDIC-regulated bank, but they have different elements. In bank fraud cases, a person is obtaining money by trick or in secret. With bank robbery, the crime happens in the open by making direct threats or using weapons or violence to get the money.
Bank fraud covers a variety of behaviors. Common types of bank fraud include:
- Fraudulent impersonation of a financial institution: Creating a fake website to trick people into depositing a huge amount of money at their fake bank
- Check fraud or forgery: Altering the amount on a check, adding an extra 0 to a check amount, or forging a person’s signature to be able to deposit a check
- Loan fraud: Using false financial information on a loan application to get approved
- Check kiting scams: Creating a false balance by writing a check for insufficient funds and then transferring it to a new account making a false balance
- Online phishing scams: Posing as a bank to get your bank account, Social Security number, debit card number, ATM PIN, or other financial information.
The penalties for bank fraud are serious. A conviction can mean:
- Up to 30 years in prison
- Up to a $1 million fine
- Restitution for the amount of money taken
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Office of Inspector General will investigate suspected bank fraud claims. The FDIC also focuses on fraud prevention initiatives to help protect banking systems.
In addition to federal bank fraud charges, you could potentially face other associated criminal charges. Some crimes related to bank fraud may include:
- Money laundering
- Identity theft
- Wire transfer fraud
- Computer crimes
- Credit card fraud
Your bank could and will likely report you for suspicious activity or suspected fraud. You could face bank fraud charges under federal law. If you learn that you are being investigated for bank fraud, call a criminal defense lawyer for help. A lawyer can ensure that law enforcement treats you fairly during an investigation and potentially negotiation with prosecutors to protect your freedom.