What Happens If You Are Accused of Bank Fraud?
Financial regulations are complicated. Even people in the financial industry have a hard time keeping track of them, especially since many states have their own laws that create an added burden on businesses. It’s no wonder many people run afoul of federal regulators without even realizing they’ve done anything wrong until it’s too late.
Bank fraud is a good example. The laws concerning bank fraud are often ambiguous, complex, and very particular. Businesses need to stay up to date on the latest regulations, which seem to change every few years. A failure to do so can leave your company exposed, and leave you facing federal prosecution.
That’s why every sensible business will work closely with an experienced team of financial lawyers who can help ensure your business is in compliance. And if the unthinkable happens, and you find yourself facing bank fraud charges, you’ll want an attorney you can trust to advocate on your behalf.
At Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP, our dedicated Los Angeles white-collar crime lawyers are passionate about defending individuals and businesses against federal prosecution. Call us today at (213) 688-0460 to learn more.
What Is Bank Fraud?
Bank fraud is defined as a criminal act that involves an individual who uses illegal means to receive money or assets from a bank or other financial institution. It can also refer to a person or company posing as a bank to obtain money from depositors under false pretenses. What distinguishes bank fraud from bank robbery is the attempt to disguise the fact that money was illegally obtained.
This may seem clear-cut, but it’s actually a broad definition that prosecutors can use to their advantage. On the one hand, it’s an obvious violation of the law when someone attempts to defraud a bank out of money he is not entitled to; for instance, through the use of a false check or other manufactured paperwork. But in many cases, the money involved in the transaction does not belong to the bank. It may be money that was earned by the offender through illegal means, and so the origin of the money has been concealed.
Many people will provide a bank with false information in order to cover up the origin of their money or to avoid paying taxes on it. These types of crimes are also considered bank fraud, and they are a powerful tool that prosecutors use to win cases against people who have committed serious crimes, such as drug trafficking or terrorism.
Unfortunately, these same regulations can be applied to an individual who accidentally or carelessly provided false information. Most people would agree it’s unjust for an otherwise innocent person to be tried just because he or she made an honest mistake. That’s where a white-collar defense attorney can be crucial.
What Are Some Different Types of Bank Fraud?
Bank fraud can come in many forms. Here are some examples:
- Bank impersonation: When someone pretends to be a financial institution to convince unsuspecting individuals to make deposits to them. It can involve fake companies, fake websites, and fake paperwork.
- Stolen checks: One of the easiest ways to commit bank fraud is to steal a check from a company or individual and deposit it into a dummy account set up for that purpose. In some cases, the offender may get hired for a job that allows access to mail, such as at a corporate payroll company, where it is easier to gain access to a large number of checks.
- Forgery: Similar to stealing checks, forgery consists of altering a check with new information, either changing the name or the amount (or both). Another form of forgery involves faking the signature on the check.
- Fraudulent loans: In some cases, a person will apply for a loan using a false identity, or supply false financial records in support of the loan. This is often the case with struggling businesses, which will apply for a loan with falsified information in order to keep the business afloat. It is also illegal to apply for a loan when you know you are about to declare bankruptcy.
- Money laundering: Another type of bank fraud is intended to legitimize money that was obtained through illegal means. This typically involves using a false paper trail to make it seem like the money was legally earned.
How serious is bank fraud? Would it surprise you to learn that a conviction can carry fines up to one million dollars and jail time up to 30 years? Even relatively minor offenses might involve a sentence of five or 10 years. Moreover, an accusation of bank fraud can be devastating to a person’s reputation and could get him fired from his job.
That’s why you can’t hesitate to seek help if you think you are under investigation for bank fraud. The sooner you contact Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP, the sooner we can get to work building your defense. Call (213) 688-0460 to schedule a free and confidential evaluation today.