Bank fraud is a federal offense, and the prosecutors handling your case will do everything they can to win a conviction. However, if you were charged with bank fraud, you could be facing a lengthy prison sentence and up to $1 million in fines.
However, you have a right to defend yourself, and you don’t need to face these charges alone. Talk to an experienced bank fraud lawyer in Los Angeles. The Simmrin Law Group has attorneys dedicated to ensuring people charged with federal crimes have the best possible defense.
What Does It Mean to Be Charged With Bank Fraud in Los Angeles?
Frauds are illegal schemes to commit deception on financial institutions like banks. Any type of fraud is considered a white-collar crime.
Because the federal government insures banks, bank fraud is a federal crime. Under the bank fraud law, 18 U.S. Code Section 1344, you have perpetrated bank fraud if you deliberately execute, or attempt to execute, an action to:
- Defraud a financial institution.
- Get money owned or controlled by a financial institution through promises, representations, or false pretenses.
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 charged or convicted of bank fraud. This makes it different from bank robbery, which involves entering the bank to steal money.
For a free legal consultation with a bank fraud lawyer serving Los Angeles, call (310) 928-9347
What Does It Take to Be Convicted of Bank Fraud?
Your prosecutor must prove several facts or “elements” of the crime to convict you of bank fraud. They include:
- A fraudulent scheme or artifice: The prosecution must prove that you planned to use a lie or deception to acquire the money that didn’t belong to you. It doesn’t matter if you were trying to obtain cash from a bank directly or were getting money from someone else’s bank account or credit card.
- 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.
Federal prosecutors will have top-tier resources to help secure a conviction. It’s best to have a bank fraud attorney in Los Angeles to counteract their legal maneuvers.
Los Angeles Bank Fraud Lawyer Near Me (310) 928-9347
What Are Common Types of Bank Fraud?
There is a wide range of activities that can be considered bank fraud. They are often made alongside other federal criminal charges, including mail fraud or wire fraud. Typical bank fraud schemes include:
- Providing false information: Putting false information on bank documents, including loan applications.
- Falsifying documents: Filing a false document 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: Forging checks by using fake ones or someone else’s checks to get money from their accounts.
- Loan fraud: Loan fraud means lying or using other illegal conduct to get a loan you ordinarily wouldn’t qualify for.
- Counterfeit bank documents: Using counterfeit bank documents to get access to money.
- Wire or mail fraud: Using a bank to commit wire or mail fraud.
- Check kiting: Check kiting involves transferring theoretical funds between two checking accounts. When check kiting involves significant sums of money or multiple checks, you may be charged by state and federal governments.
- Accounting fraud: Businesses or individuals use accounting fraud to overstate income or sales, state a profit when losing money, or inflate a company’s assets worth.
- Diverting funds: Diverting funds happens when individuals reroute money from one bank account into a fraudulent one.
- Lottery scams: Lottery scams happen when an individual tricks another into sending them personal information or money, claiming they had won a large lottery amount.
- Phishing scams: Phishing scams are online schemes where a legitimate organization is impersonated through an email or text to get bank numbers or other personal information.
- Stolen credit card numbers: Using stolen credit card numbers.
Any scheme to get money from a bank, financial institution, individual, or organization 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 to try and 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 make an innocent mistake. This makes it all the more critical that you hire an excellent bank fraud attorney in Los Angeles to mount a strong defense.
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What Are the Best Defenses to a Bank Fraud Charge?
There are several possible bank fraud defense possibilities. A good L.A. bank fraud lawyer will consider your overall case and select the defense that offers 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 introduce evidence that clearly shows you made an honest mistake and didn’t intend to deceive or hurt anyone, you have a strong defense and can avoid liability.
For instance, if you get a business loan from a community bank after erroneously using false information on your loan proposal, you could avoid liability by showing your actions were mistaken instead of intentional.
You may consider introducing evidence of your readiness to communicate the mistake to the authorities and correct the error.
Fraud Did Not Occur
Banking regulations and transactions can be highly 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 that no fraud occurred.
Bank fraud cases often involve vast amounts of evidence and police interrogations. This means there is excellent potential for illegal searches and seizures and other violations of your constitutional rights. Any or all of these can become defenses in your criminal case.
Acted Under Duress
Duress can be a strong defense against bank fraud charges. For example, if you committed bank fraud intentionally because you were coerced, pressured, or subjected to the threat of physical violence, you can avoid criminal liability for bank fraud.
Be aware that normal pressures are not enough to demonstrate duress. Usually, duress needs an entity or third-party individual to impose unlawful demands on you. For instance, if an individual made a threat of violence against your family unless you committed a fraudulent act for them, you would have a duress defense.
Acted in Good Faith
Acting in good faith is similar to a lack of intent. If you can show that you believed your actions were for legitimate business purposes and were legal, you could avoid being found liable for bank fraud.
Establishing that you acted in good faith can be a challenging defense in that you’ll have to show the expectations and limits of your knowledge. Things like your professional training, experience, and age can influence this knowledge.
What Are the Penalties for Bank Fraud in Los Angeles?
If you are convicted of bank fraud, you could be:
- Sent to federal prison for up to 30 years
- Fined up to $1 million
- Both imprisoned for up to 30 years and fined up to $1 million
A bank fraud conviction will also damage your reputation, making it hard to find a job or get credit. So, when someone is charged with defrauding a bank that the federal government insures, 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 crucial to get a good federal crimes lawyer in Los Angeles working on your case as early as possible.
Talk to a Los Angeles Bank Fraud Lawyer for Free
At the Simmrin Law Group, our Los Angeles bank fraud lawyers can help you mount a strong defense against the most rigid federal charges. Bank fraud cases are complicated, and the feds will be aggressive and armed with a stack of evidence.
Don’t gamble with your future. Instead, schedule a FREE consultation with a lawyer who will fight for you. Our lawyers know how to fight bank fraud charges. Complete our online contact form and case evaluation, or call us to get your free consultation today.
We’ll discuss the charges against you, explain your rights, and answer any of your questions.