Bank Fraud Defense Attorney in Naples
Federal criminal justice attorneys fighting for Collier County
Bank fraud appears in many forms, but it is essentially a financial crime defined by the acquisition or attempt to acquire money, credit, assets, property or securities through the use of false information or misleading actions at federally insured financial institutions. Because trust is necessary for our banking systems to serve society, federal law 18 U.S. Code Section 1344 authorizes hefty penalties for people convicted of bank fraud. A judge could sentence a person to up to 30 years in federal prison and impose a fine as high as $1 million for conviction on a single criminal charge. People in Naples, Florida, accused of bank fraud will want representation from a Naples bank fraud attorney capable of understanding the nuances of complex financial evidence.
Bank fraud examples
A basic example of bank fraud occurs when people lie about their income or employment on a credit card application. Almost anyone may have been tempted to do this because credit card issuers almost never ask applicants for income records. However, knowingly lying on a credit card application fits the definition of bank fraud because a person gave false information meant to influence a financial institution’s credit decision. Because almost all credit card companies partner with federal banking institutions, bank fraud laws apply to this scenario.
However, criminal investigators generally give their attention to bank fraud crimes that occur at much higher levels and produce significant damages. A high-profile example from the Naples area involved the chief executive at Orion Bank that operated 23 branches. He received a six-year sentence in federal prison after entering a plea agreement for his actions that illegally inflated the bank’s capital through the sale of bad loans. The resulting bank failure rendered the company’s stock worthless, costing shareholders, including employees, $20 million.
Other specific forms of bank fraud are:
- accounting fraud: This offense is commonly described as “cooking the books” and is usually done by businesses seeking loans that they would not legitimately qualify for. To accomplish this, a person or group alters or confuses financial records so that an operation looks profitable when really it is insolvent and cannot repay loans.
- loan fraud: Although the desire to obtain loans usually motivates accounting fraud, any individual may commit loan fraud by misrepresenting income in any way. Identity thieves seeking loans with stolen names are also committing loan fraud.
- rogue trading: This can happen within an investment bank when traders on staff perform unauthorized trades for the purpose of falsely inflating their revenue.
- demand draft fraud: Bank employees in a position to create demand drafts use their inside privileges to collect money generated by illegal account drafts.
- phishing fraud: These are actions meant to deceive people into providing access to their financial accounts by email, mail, text, or telephone.
- wire transfer fraud: This charge applies in cases when an accused person allegedly moves money without proper authorization via wire transfers or the internet. The offense can happen by stealing people’s online bank login information or by tricking people into wiring their money to a dishonest actor.
- ATM fraud: Computerized machines full of cash are vulnerable to technological hacks. The installation of a skimmer on an ATM collects PINs so that people can illegally withdraw from other people’s accounts. Any manipulation of an ATM may result in this fraud charge.
- money laundering: Although money laundering represents a white collar offense all on its own, the activity can trigger bank fraud charges as well because money laundering relies on misrepresenting the source of money to banks. Banking institutions or employees who fail to report suspected money laundering activities risk accusations of complicity.
Individuals accused of bank fraud are typically vulnerable to other types of white collar criminal charges. As a result, their legal cases expose them to conviction on multiple fronts.
Do not say anything that might incriminate you. Speak with an attorney first.
Legal elements of bank fraud
Prosecutors must operate under the conditions set forth in criminal codes. Defense lawyers strive to cast doubt on the government’s interpretation of evidence so that criminal charges cannot be proven.
To pursue conviction for bank fraud, evidence needs to satisfy all elements of the bank fraud definition, which are:
- a defendant either initiated or completed a fraudulent action meant to gain money, assets, credit or other property from a financial institution.
- a defendant knowingly acted with the intent to commit fraud.
- the lies, promises or misrepresentations were material.
- the financial institution is federally chartered and insured.
Bank fraud defenses
Many financial transactions are complex, and people may not have fully understood what they were doing or what someone else was asking them to do. For this reason, many defense strategies rely on showing that a person did not knowingly or willfully participate in a criminal act.
Seek out qualified legal representation
Bank fraud and related white collar criminal charges place accused people at risk of long prison terms and high fines. An unbiased case evaluation coupled with an aggressive defense may be needed to prevent the harshest outcomes. Joffe Law, P.A. has defended over 1,100 federal criminal defendants. We have a skilled legal team with extensive experience in white collar and financial crimes. People concerned about an investigation or already under charges may speak confidentially with a bank fraud lawyer at our office in Naples. We provide information about legal options and are fully prepared to protect the rights of defendants subject to criminal allegations.