If you have been charged with bank fraud, you could be facing a long prison sentence and up to $1 million in fines. Bank fraud is a federal offense, and the prosecutors handling your case will do everything they can to win a conviction. But you have a right to defend yourself—and you do not need to face these charges alone. You need to talk to an experienced Los Angeles bank fraud lawyer.
At the Simmrin Law Group, our lawyers know how to fight bank fraud charges. We have attorneys that have dedicated their careers to making sure that people charged with federal crimes have the best possible defense—either at trial or in negotiations with U.S. Attorneys. We offer a free consultation to discuss the charges against you, explain your rights and answer your questions. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.
What is “bank fraud”?
Bank fraud is a scheme to commit fraud on a financial institution such as a bank. Because banks are insured by the federal government, bank fraud is a federal crime. Under the bank fraud law, 18 U.S. Code Section 1344, you have committed bank fraud if you knowingly execute, or try to execute, a plan to either:
- Defraud a financial institution, or
- Get money owned or controlled by a financial institution through false pretenses, representations or promises.
In other words, bank fraud means you lied or deceived to deprive a bank of money. Importantly, you do not have to ever set foot inside a bank branch to be convicted of bank fraud. This makes it different than bank robbery, which involves entering the bank to take money.
To convict you of bank fraud, the prosecutor must prove several facts, or “elements” of the crime. They include:
- A fraudulent “scheme or artifice.”This means that you planned to use some sort of lie or deception to get money that did not belong to you. You might have been trying to obtain money from a bank directly, or to get money from someone else’s bank account or credit card. There are many common bank fraud schemes. Check kiting, accounting fraud, diverting funds from accounts, lottery scams, phishing scams and using stolen credit card numbers are all bank fraud schemes.
- Fraudulent intent.To be convicted of bank fraud, you must have intended to cheat someone out of their money. This means that the prosecution must prove that you knew you would be defrauding the bank.
What are some common types of bank fraud?
There are a wide range of activities that can be considered bank fraud, and bank fraud charges are often made alongside other federal criminal charges such as mail fraud or wire fraud. Common bank fraud schemes include:
- Putting false information on bank documents such as loan applications.
- Falsifying documents. This might involve presenting fake or altered documents to the bank to secure a loan or credit card or transfer money from someone else’s account.
- Forging checks by using fake ones or using someone else’s checks to get money from their account.
- Loan fraud (lying or using other illegal conduct to get a loan you ordinarily wouldn’t qualify for).
- Using counterfeit bank documents to get access to money.
- Using a bank to commit wire or mail fraud.
Any scheme to get money from a bank that you are not legally entitled to can be prosecuted as bank fraud.
What if I didn’t actually defraud any money?
Bank fraud is based on your intentions, not on results. If you make a plan and try to defraud a bank, you can be found guilty and sent to prison. This is true even if you get caught right away and you never defraud any money.
Unfortunately, many people end up facing a bank fraud charge even when they made an innocent mistake. This makes it all the more important that you hire a good lawyer to mount a strong defense.
What are the best defenses to bank fraud?
There are many possible defenses to bank fraud. A good lawyer will look at your overall case and choose the ones that present the best chance of success. Some of the most common defenses in any bank fraud case include:
- Lack of intent.To convict you of bank fraud, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knew you were defrauding the bank. In other words, you intended to commit a crime. If your lawyer can show that you made an honest mistake and did not intent to deceive or hurt anyone, you have a strong defense.
- Fraud did not occur.Banking regulations and transactions can be extremely complex, and lawful transactions can sometimes appear fraudulent. One way to defend against a bank fraud charge is to show that transactions were legal and no fraud ever occurred.
- Rights violations.Bank fraud cases often involve huge amounts of evidence and police interrogations. This means there is great potential for illegal searches and seizures and other violations of your constitutional rights. All of these can become defenses in your criminal case.
What are the penalties for bank fraud?
If you are convicted of bank fraud:
- You could be sent to federal prison for up to 30 years,
- You could be fined up to $1 million,
- Or both.
A bank fraud conviction will also damage your reputation, making it hard to find a job or get credit. When someone is charged with defrauding a bank that is insured by the federal government, federal prosecutors take it very seriously. They will launch a full-scale investigation and do everything in their power to win a conviction. That’s why it is important to get a good lawyer working on your case as early as possible.
Talk to a Los Angeles Bank Fraud Lawyer for Free
At the Simmrin Law Group, we can help you mount a strong defense against the toughest federal charges. Bank fraud cases are complicated, and feds will be aggressive and armed with mountains of evidence. Don’t take chances with your future. Schedule a FREE consultation with a lawyer who will fight for you. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.