Most of us use our bank accounts for many different purposes, such as paying bills, depositing money and various other types of transactions. Your bank, as well as banks throughout New York and New Jersey, holds enormous sums of money in them daily.
This increases the chance of bank fraud. Bank fraud can range from something minor, such as floating a check or falsifying a bank record, to large, complex conspiracies involving money laundering or embezzlement.
What is bank fraud?
Bank fraud is defined under federal law as a knowing execution or attempt to execute a fraud on a financial institution or to fraudulently obtain any of the money, assets, funds, securities or any other property owned by a bank.
A charge under the federal bank fraud statute is a felony and its penalties are incredibly severe. If you are charged under this statute, you could face a fine of up to $1 million or a prison sentence of up to 30 years.
What’s worse, you can be charged with bank fraud for helping someone else commit the fraud, even if you don’t do it yourself or obtain any benefit from it.
Defending against a bank fraud charge
Many times, individuals charged with bank fraud did not intend to commit the fraud, and this is a strong defense against a charge of bank fraud. A bank fraud charge can result from something as simple as submitting a loan application with incorrect information.
To successfully prove a bank fraud charge, the prosecution must show that you intended to defraud the financial institution. As with any criminal charge, your knowledge or intent must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Proving intent is challenging, especially without your own statements or witness statements that you meant to commit the fraud.
Don’t face a bank fraud charge alone
You may receive notice that you are being investigated for bank fraud before you are officially charged. Your bank accounts might be frozen, or you could receive a letter outlining the investigation.
If this happens, your first step should be consulting with an attorney experienced in defending fraud cases. Talking to investigators or cooperating with the investigation is not a good idea, as any statements could be used against you.
A bank fraud charge requires a strong defense. A professional can analyze your situation and provide you advice on next steps.