When it comes to financial crimes, bank fraud is treated as a very serious offense because people and business entities of all sizes rely so heavily on banks. The emergence of new technologies has multiplied the ways in which fraudsters can target banking institutions and individual consumers. Bank fraud occurs when someone knowingly attempts to execute a scheme for the purpose of defrauding a banking institution. The crime is a federal offense that carries very severe sentencing, which may include decades in prison and as much as $1 million in fines.
Proving bank fraud
A defendant can only be convicted of bank fraud in Florida if the prosecution proves:
- the accused individual executed or attempted to execute a scheme to defraud a financial institution or to obtain money, assets, or property from a financial institution by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises relating to a material fact;
- the accused individual attempted or executed the fraudulent act willfully and with the intent to defraud;
- the fraudulent or false representations, pretenses, or promises were material;
- the financial institution was federally insured and chartered.
Bank fraud is classified as a white collar crime. Perpetrators commonly used a variety of schemes to defraud banking institutions; therefore, bank fraud charges are often combined with other allegations.
White collar crime in Florida
Defined by the FBI as illegal acts that are characterized by deceit, concealment, or violation of trust and are not dependent on violence or physical force, which collar crimes generally involve illegally obtaining cash through a variety of complex transactions. Because these crimes usually involve activities that are more difficult to track, anyone who is accused of involvement in a white collar crime like bank fraud should immediately contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale defense attorney who specializes in defending cases that involve financial crimes.
Credit card fraud
The term “credit card fraud” generally refers to any crime that involves deceptive and unauthorized use of a credit card to complete a financial transaction. Credit card scams take place in many different forms, the most popular of which being the purchase and sale of stolen account information. Credit cards are also commonly counterfeited along with using stolen account information to make purchases. Individuals who are accused of committing credit card fraud may be charged under state and federal law. Due to the large amount of credit card fraud cases reported each year, Florida has increased penalties for credit card-related offenses.
Like other bank fraud crimes, money laundering is also both a federal and state level offense. Money laundering occurs when someone attempts to conceal the source of financial proceeds that derived from criminal activity. There are generally three stages to money laundering. In the first stage, tainted or “dirty” money that is derived from illegal activity is introduced into the financial system. During the second stage, the money is converted by carrying out complex transactions to obscure the source of the money. The person obtains the newly laundered money from the financial system in the third stage. Structuring, bulk cash smuggling, shell companies, trusts, and real estate transactions are most commonly used to launder money.
Securities fraud occurs when a finance professional, such as a stock broker or financial analyst, provides false information in an effort to mislead clients or if he or she gives advise obtained through insider information. Corporations also commit securities fraud if they mislead investors to make their company appear stronger than it actually is in the interest of driving stock prices upward as a result of the deceptive report. With new and more creative investment products now available, the volume of securities fraud cases has increased substantially.
How can a lawyer help you?
Being accused of a bank fraud-related crime is a situation that especially calls for a seasoned, specialized defense lawyer. Because these crimes are often very complex and secretive in nature, building a case for an accused person’s defense can be much more complicated. Nevertheless, a qualified Fort Lauderdale bank fraud lawyer can enlist the help of knowledgeable experts and specialists to gather all the necessary evidence to build a strong defense. Contacting a lawyer involves the simple process of speaking with a law firm staff member, who will first conduct a case evaluation. The case evaluation is completely discrete and confidential. After the evaluation has been completed, the attorney will advise the accused of his or her most viable legal options and explain more about how the process of defending his or her case will work. If the individual agrees to retain the lawyer as his or her legal counsel, the lawyer will begin work on investigating the case and gathering facts to help prove his or her client’s case in court. In addition to providing legal representation during the court process, an attorney can also help individuals who have been preliminarily contacted to speak with law enforcement regarding investment fraud before charges have been filed. Law enforcement agents will sometimes invite an individual for an informal interview prior to filing formal charges. Therefore, consulting an attorney prior to communicating with investigators can help an individual avoid self-incrimination and other issues that may arise as a result of the interview. In many cases bank fraud convictions carry very severe penalties; therefore, it only makes sense to have the help of an experienced bank fraud defense attorney when facing related charges.