Bank Fraud

October 23, 2014

“Because that’s where the money is.” Bank fraud is different than bank robbery or theft, but the same reasoning applies as when Willie Sutton was once asked, “Why do you rob banks?” Banks always have been and always will be subject to fraud because that’s where the money is, as a New Jersey federal defense attorney will tell you.

A Crime of Secrecy

Bank fraud may be defined by a New Jersey federal defense attorney as an intentional misrepresentation to fraudulently obtain money or other assets from a bank or other federally insured financial institution. Perpetrators of bank fraud act in secret, hoping that some time passes before their fraudulent act is detected. The lack of violence or force in committing bank fraud makes it among the offenses categorized as white collar crimes.

An Inside Job or an Outside Job

Inside bank fraud is perpetrated by someone who works for a bank or has access to restricted information. It can be particularly difficult to detect because of the number of individuals who have positions of responsibility with each bank. Included among insider bank fraud are:

Forging documents to conceal a theft

  • Making fraudulent loans
  • Identity theft
  • Using the bank’s funds to invest in the stock market
  • Wire fraud

Outside fraud involves people not associated with the bank. Common crimes a New Jersey federal defense attorney sees include:

  • Forging checks
  • Check kiting
  • Passing bad checks
  • Identity theft
  • Stolen debit/credit cards
  • Money laundering
  • Accounting fraud

Bank Fraud is a Federal Crime

Bank fraud is taken very seriously and punished accordingly. Citing the federal statute:

“Whoever knowingly executes, or attempts to execute, a scheme or artifice
(1) to defraud a financial institution; or
(2) to obtain any of the moneys, funds, credits, assets, securities or other property owned by or under the custody or control of a financial institution by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations or promises;
shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned not more than 30 years, or both.”

Defenses to Bank Fraud

By its very nature, bank fraud is complex. Consequently, investigations into alleged misconduct are extensive, lengthy and take time to develop. Most people who are targeted as potential defendants are aware their behavior is under scrutiny. That is the time to act and retain experienced counsel. An understanding of not only the complexities of financial transactions but also the difficult burden of proof prosecutors have in such cases is essential to providing an effective defense.

Each case must be evaluated and proceed on its individual merits, but common defenses to bank fraud include:

  • Lack of criminal intent; the heart of any fraud charge is the intent of the accused. If a reasonable doubt can be created that the individual acted in good faith and made an honest mistake, the prosecution’s case can be weakened.
  • Lack of fraud; bank regulations and transactions are increasingly complex. Lawful transactions can be mistaken for fraud.
  • Search and seizure issues; the evidence needed to prosecute a bank fraud case may involve thousands of documents. Each must be gathered in a lawful manner.

Contact a New Jersey Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer for Legal Advice

If you are the subject of an investigation regarding bank fraud, you need to act quickly. Time is of the essence. Call Tim Anderson at 732-212-2812.


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