Federal Bank Fraud
Title 18, United States Code, Section 1344
Under 18 USC §1344, bank fraud occurs when an individual or entity knowingly engages in a scheme to defraud a financial institution, such as a bank. Bank fraud may also occur when an individual obtains any of the money of a financial institution by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises.
A material misrepresentation may take many forms. To be fraudulent, any misrepresentation must be related to the scheme. It must either help the defendant perpetrate the crime or convince a purported victim to believe the defendant. Federal Bank Fraud requires that a scheme to defraud must have existed at the time the alleged crime occurred. A scheme is a course of action taken to deprive another person, business, or organization of property or money. For an alleged crime of bank fraud, the other person, business, or organization is a financial institution.
Types of bank fraud include bank impersonation, forgery, fraudulent loans, and internet fraud. Bank impersonation occurs when one or more person acts as a financial institution, often by setting up fake companies or creating websites, in order to lure people into depositing funds. Forgery occurs when a person alters a check, such as adding a zero to the end of a number, resulting in more money being deposited in the forger’s pocket than intended by the check writer. Forging a person’s signature in order to cash or deposit a check is also considered forgery. An individual who takes out a loan, knowing that he or she will immediately default on the loan or file bankruptcy has committed bank fraud. An individual has also committed bank fraud if he or she uses a false identity to obtain a loan or forges information on a loan application. Internet fraud occurs when someone creates a website for the purposes of posing as a bank or other financial institution to fraudulently obtain money deposited by other people.
When an individual is charged under 18 USC §1344, he Assistant United States Attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following elements:
- There was a scheme to defraud a bank or other financial institution or to obtain moneys, funds, credits, assets, securities, or other property owned by or in the custody or control of a bank or other financial institution by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations or promises;
- The defendant knowingly executed the scheme;
- The defendant acted with the intent to defraud; and
- The scheme involved a materially false or fraudulent pretense, representation, or promise.
A conviction for Bank Fraud can have a wide range of consequences including incarceration, career decimation, or even deportation for a non-citizen. If convicted of Bank Fraud, the defendant may be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison and fines reaching $100,000 plus full restitution costs.
For more information on Federal Bank Fraud, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (212) 500-3273 today.
Russ Kofman is a founding partner in Lebedin Kofman LLP. He has extensive litigation experience defending clients accused of felonies, misdemeanors and DWI/ DUI crimes.