What is Bank Fraud?
The short definition – bank fraud or financial institution fraud generally refers to a transaction in which a bank is deceived in order for the perpetrator to obtain money or property.
The federal bank fraud statute is 18 U.S.C. Section 1344.
To be found guilty of bank fraud, the government must prove that someone knowingly executed or attempted to execute a scheme to:
- to defraud a financial institution; or
- 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.
Bank Fraud - Embezzlement
The Supreme Court has defined embezzlement as follows:
“Embezzlement is the fraudulent appropriation of property by a person to whom such property has been entrusted, or into whose hands it has lawfully come. It differs from larceny in that the original taking was lawful, or with the consent of the owner, while in larceny the felonious intent must have existed at the time of the taking.” Moore v. United States, 160 U.S. 268, 269 (1895).
In plain English, embezzlement is a form of theft that involves abusing a position of trust in order to commit the theft.
Bank Fraud - Money Laundering
According to the United States Department of the Treasury:
Money laundering is the process of making illegally-gained proceeds (i.e., “dirty money”) appear legal (i.e. “clean”). Think Ozark.
Typically, it involves three steps: placement, layering and integration.
Step One – illegitimate funds are furtively introduced into the legitimate financial system.
Step Two – the money is moved around to create confusion, sometimes by wiring or transferring through numerous accounts.
Step Three – it is integrated into the financial system through additional transactions until the “dirty money” appears “clean.”
The federal government regularly conducts examinations of Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs), Currency Transaction Reports (CTRs), and CTR exemptions, in its attempts to stop money laundering.
Bank Fraud - Ponzi Scheme
After Bernie Madoff there were so many questions about Ponzi schemes that the SEC had created an FAQ, which explained what a Ponzi Scheme is and even answered the question “who is Bernie Madoff?”.
Now everyone knows Mr. Madoff, so the SEC no longer answers that question. Their updated FAQ is here.
A Ponzi scheme is an investment fraud that involves the payment of purported returns to existing investors from funds contributed by new investors.
Ponzi scheme organizers often solicit new investors by promising to invest funds in opportunities claimed to generate high returns with little or no risk.
In many Ponzi schemes, the fraudsters focus on attracting new money to make promised payments to earlier-stage investors to create the false appearance that investors are profiting from a legitimate business.
Interestingly, the IRS has also provided tax guidance for people who have fallen victim to a Ponzi scheme.
Bank Fraud - Structuring
The legal definition of structuring is if a person, acting alone, or in conjunction with, or on behalf of, other persons, conducts or attempts to conduct one or more transactions in currency in any amount, at one or more financial institutions, on one or more days, in any manner, for the purpose of evading CTR (Currency Transaction Report) filing requirements.
This may mean the breaking down more than $10,000 into smaller amounts that may be conducted as a series of transactions at or less than $10,000.
The transactions need not exceed the $10,000 CTR filing threshold at any one bank on any single day in order to constitute structuring.
The government knows that money launderers and criminals have developed many ways to structure large amounts of currency to evade the CTR filing requirements.
Structuring remains one of the most commonly reported suspected crimes on SARs (Suspicious Activity Report).
Tim Anderson Law has significant experience in representing clients who are being investigated or prosecuted for bank fraud.
The ideal time to retain a criminal defense attorney is at the beginning of any investigation, but it is particularly important to retain counsel if you have been contacted by the FBI or another law enforcement agency, either in the United States or abroad.
The sooner we have an opportunity to discuss your rights, potential defenses and case strategies, the better the chances of a favorable outcome, including the possibility that you are never charged.
If your case has been referred to a U.S. Attorney’s Office, you should contact Tim Anderson Law or another experienced federal criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The earlier we are brought in and can advocate on your behalf, the better your chances of achieving a favorable outcome.
Tim Anderson Law has significant experience in effectively resolving our clients’ cases through creative problem-solving, thorough investigation, and adroit negotiation, all to help our clients make the crucial strategic and tactical decisions necessary to navigate complex federal bank fraud cases.
In the end, our strategy is simple: Tim Anderson Law puts our clients first and works doggedly on their behalf. Of course, no attorney can ever promise a certain result, but it has been our experience that our work ethic, skill, diligence, and compassion all contribute to maximize our clients’ chances of receiving a favorable outcome.
The sooner we have an opportunity to discuss your rights, potential defenses and case strategies, the better the chances of a favorable outcome, including the possibility that you are never charged. Contact us today to discuss your options.