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Federal Criminal Defense

Bank Fraud

What is Bank Fraud?

Falsifying information on a loan application is federal bank fraud. Recording a fake name, inflated earnings, or a fraudulent credit information to increase the chances of being approved or receiving better terms for a loan from a federally insured bank or financial institution is are just some examples of acts that qualify as bank fraud. Even if the bank or financial institution did not lose any money and even if you did it to save the family business from bankruptcy, especially with the significant economic downtown due to COVID-19, it simply does not matter for federal prosecutors.

What is the Federal Statute for Bank Fraud? 

The federal statute deployed by United States Attorneys in cases involving bank fraud is 18 U.S.C. § 1344, and if the indictment alleges that bank fraud was part of a larger scheme to defraud, you might also see the more ubiquitous charges under 18 U.S.C. §§ 1341, 1343 for mail and wire fraud, which you can learn more about here.

In addition, an indictment for bank fraud might also include charges of false statements under 18 U.S.C. § 1001, even if just to add leverage.

How Do You Prove Bank Fraud?

In order to be convicted of bank fraud under section 1344, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you:

What if I Tricked Someone to Give me Cash From Their Account?

The victim would be the person you duped into withdrawing the money from their account, not the financial institution in this scenario, which means, here, the money would constitute property of the victim, not the financial institution. Thus, this scenario does not constitute bank fraud under section 1344. At the same time, however, you may very well see yourself exposed to other forms of criminal liability for these acts.

What if the Bank Did Not Lose Any Money?

The bank does not need to lose money or suffer any damages for it be bank fraud. The government is not required to prove the financial institution suffered an actual financial loss of any sort. Instead, the government need only prove the bank or financial institution experienced the threat of suffering a losing money, a financial loss, or other damages as a result of your acts.

What if it’s the Bank Fault and I Just Didn’t Correct it?

As mentioned above, the government is required to prove you possessed the knowledge and intent to defraud the bank or financial institution at the time you committed the acts. If, for example, the discrepancies at issue were the result of technical glitches or software malfunction, and not your knowing and willful acts undertaken to defraud the bank or financial institution, then the government cannot prove all three elements beyond a reasonable doubt necessary for your conviction, so you should not be found guilty of bank fraud.

Who is Investigating Bank Fraud?

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) are the most likely agencies investigating persons suspected of bank fraud, as these two are the main law enforcement agencies of the federal government. Considering that this charge applies transactions with financial institutions, you would most often see banks and other financial institutions involved in the investigation. Additionally, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) might also be involved in an investigation for bank fraud.

What is the Punishment for Bank Fraud?

The punishment for bank fraud most often includes an assessment of heavy fines and a term of imprisonment, but sentencing varies with each case’s unique set of facts, the presiding judge, and factors considered under the federal sentencing guidelines, which you can read more about here.

Is Bank Fraud a Felony?

Yes, bank fraud under section 1344 is a felony under federal law.

How Long is a Prison Sentence for Bank Fraud?

Generally, for bank fraud,

30 years is the maximum term of imprisonment.

$1,000,000 is the maximum fine.

What is the Minimum Sentence for Bank Fraud?

Every sentence in a federal cases is based on the federal sentencing guidelines, which considers a multitude of factors, such as prior criminal history, use of a gun, or position of trust, to calculate a recommended range that the federal judge may use as a guide for sentencing, however the presiding judge ultimately reserves final discretion at sentencing. Thus, as long as the judge provides a reasonable basis for their decision on record, the judge may make what is called a “departure from the guidelines” and sentence the defendant to a term of imprisonment outside the recommended range. You can learn more about the sentencing under the federal sentencing guidelines here.

Will I Be Required to Pay Back Restitution?

Possibly, as it depends on the charges you are convicted of and the unique facts of your case. Ultimately, however, final discretion remains with the judge presiding over sentencing. Factors that also will help determine whether restitution will be required include whether there are victims of the convicted charges, whether those victims suffered compensable harm, the federal sentencing guidelines, and many more. 

Can the Government Seize my Assets During an Investigation? After Conviction?

Possibly, as it again depends on the charges alleged in the indictment and the unique facts of your case As mentioned above, the charges and facts alleged in the indictment shape the scope of the entire criminal proceeding, including assets subject to pre-trial seizures and final forfeiture as part of sentencing, if convicted. You can learn more about the sentencing under the federal sentencing guidelines here.

How is the Government Prosecuting for Bank Fraud Related to Covid-19?

See our news page for recent updates on COVID-19 fraud cases here.

Investigators Contacted me: What Do I Do?

You should only speak with law enforcement investigator regarding anything related to fraud, COVID-19 fraud, or any other related crime after you have spoken to a criminal defense lawyer. Period.

A common question from people involved in a criminal investigation is at what point can they finally clear their name and share their part of the story.

You have probably heard investigators, prosecutors, and others taking the situation out of context, bending the truth, and misunderstanding what actually happened. They are relying on people who are lying, and the whole situation is outrageous and humiliating for you.

You should know that the Fifth Amendment exists to protect anyone accused of a crime from incriminating themselves, and the truth is it takes only one split-second mistake to get unnecessarily tied up in a prolonged criminal investigation that will place a heavy financial and time-consuming burden for you and loved ones. Do not go swimming with sharks alone and without a cage.

You need to speak with a fraud or COVID-19 fraud defense attorney to obtain sound legal advice before you speak with federal fraud investigators, even if you think you have done nothing wrong.

You should contact a defense lawyer that has decades of experience handling criminal investigations before you engage with investigators. Balancing cooperation and protecting your constitutional rights and liberties requires a defense attorney that knows how to handle federal investigators.

When Should I Contact a Federal Fraud Defense Lawyer?

If you have been contacted or anticipate contact from federal fraud or COVID-19 fraud investigators, then you should contact and speak with a federal fraud and COVID-19 fraud defense lawyer to protect yourself, your freedom, and financial stability. You will not be able to talk yourself out of the crosshairs – you’ll only be wound up in a web of investigation tactics.

How Can Schiffer Law Firm Help me?

You need a fraud defense lawyer who knows what they’re doing and has a proven track record of experience defending federal fraud cases. Schiffer law firm has over four decades of experience defending clients involved in federal criminal investigations and clients accused of federal crimes. The fraud defense lawyers at Schiffer law firm know how to handle federal fraud cases from first contact by investigators to overturning wrongful convictions on appeal.

Does Schiffer Law Firm Only Defend People in Texas?

Schiffer law firm attorneys has and continues to defend people needing fraud defense attorneys nationwide. Nobody is too small, and nowhere is too far. If you think you need to speak to a fraud defense attorney, give us a call today.