Bank fraud is a serious charge and one that requires immediate attention. In Tennessee, bank fraud may be prosecuted on the state level, but is most often considered a federal offense. This is because banks are usually protected under a government program called Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
If you are convicted of federal bank fraud, you could suffer severe penalties. Bank fraud cases can be extremely complex and require assistance from an experienced bank fraud lawyer. For award-winning criminal defense in Chattanooga, call Best & Brock, PLLC.
A felony conviction could wreak havoc on your life. If convicted, you might need to spend time away from your family in federal prison and may have to pay back any money that was allegedly taken.
Once you serve your sentence, you might find it hard to find employment and it will be difficult to obtain a loan and get into school. These issues can significantly impact the rest of your life, which is why you need a Chattanooga bank fraud lawyer to help you avoid or reduce these types of charges.
Federal Bank Fraud Charges
Fraud is intentional misrepresentation or deception with the intent to benefit. Bank fraud charges may be filed against you if you are suspected of defrauding or attempting to defraud a bank or financial institution.
Fraud is generally committed in secrecy as opposed to bank robbery, where the crime is immediately known. Fraud is a criminal act that is an attempt to obtain money from a bank or other financial institution through deception.
Bank fraud may also occur when someone fraudulently claims to be a bank to obtain personal information and for financial gain. Bank fraud is a type of white-collar crime which is considered non-violent. Although no violence or threat of violence was used in the commission of the act, bank fraud is still one of the most serious crimes with which you can be charged.
Types of Bank Fraud
There are a number of different crimes that fall under the general category of federal bank fraud. Some of these include:
- Check forgery: When someone fraudulently signs his someone else’s name to a check or writes a check that is not his own. Altering the amount of a check is also considered a form of forgery. For example, adding extra zeros to the end of a check to make it larger than intended is an act of forgery, even if the check is made out to you. Using stolen checks is another example of bank fraud. Someone may steal a check through a person’s mailbox and then open a bank account under the person’s name to make a deposit. A check fraud lawyer can help you in defending against these types of charges.
- Mortgage fraud: Obtaining a mortgage under false pretenses is a crime. For instance, it is considered a crime to take out a mortgage knowing that you are immediately going to file bankruptcy.
- Falsifying information on loan application: If you provide false information on a loan application, it is a crime. An example is when someone provides the incorrect income on an application in order to gain financially.
- Falsifying tax returns: Tax return falsification includes knowingly providing incorrect income or deduction information to reduce the amount of money owed or to obtain a larger refund.
- Loan fraud: Taking out a loan in someone else’s name is a crime. You cannot legally obtain a loan in someone else’s name, or it is considered identity theft.
- Bank impersonation: It is against the law to impersonate a bank or other institution in order to defraud others out of their money. For example, creating a fake company or utilizing an unauthorized website might be considered bank fraud.
- Internet fraud: The Internet may be used in order to swindle people out of money. For instance, someone may create a fake website or send false emails to people in order to obtain their personal banking information which is used to steal money.
These types of charges are often made in conjunction with other charges. For example, credit card fraud or mail fraud might be other charges that occur as a result of one possible crime. While these charges may sometimes be prosecuted at the state level, when they occur with federal crimes, they will be charged federally.
Let one of the bank fraud lawyers at Best & Brock, PLLC in Tennessee review your situation and help you determine how to proceed.
Penalties for Federal Bank Fraud Charges
Federal bank fraud charges are typically classified as felonies, although in some limited situations they might be misdemeanors. Misdemeanor charges of bank fraud carry less severe sentences than felony offenses. Usually, penalties for felony bank fraud include various components such as jail time, fines, restitution, and probation.
How much jail time does a bank fraud conviction impose? If convicted, your conviction may include a prison sentence that you must serve in a federal facility. Jail time can vary greatly depending on the crime that was committed.
Prison sentences generally range from 6 months to 20 years (with 30 years as the maximum), but may be outside of this variance. Many things are taken into consideration when imposing a prison sentence. In addition to the type of crime, the amount of money obtained and the exact criminal offense perpetrated are also considered.
Fines for federal crime convictions can be high. Fines are generally based on the type of crime committed and may range from hundreds of dollars to as much as a quarter million dollars or more.
It is important to keep in mind that a fine will be imposed for each fraud conviction. Therefore, if you have been convicted on several counts of bank fraud, you will face fines for each of them.
The federal court may order restitution as part of the sentence in a bank fraud conviction. Restitution is money that must be paid back to the victim as a result of the crime. It is money repaid to compensate the victim for the losses incurred. Restitution is often made one of the conditions of probation.
Probation may be granted in lieu of serving prison time in some cases. Probation may last any length of time but is often one or two years in length.
During the probationary period, the guilty party must report to a probation officer on a regular basis and must stay out of trouble. If any additional crimes are committed, or if the person fails to follow the rules, probation may be revoked.
Probation may include a variety of terms. Some of the most common conditions of probation include:
- Not doing drugs
- Submitting reports
- Keeping away from convicted felons
- Reporting to a probation officer
Probation is sometimes ordered in addition to prison time. If so, the probationary period begins after the prison sentence has been served. There is a large variance in allowable sentencing in federal bank fraud cases. While the judge makes the final decision, an experienced bank fraud lawyer can play a significant role in the process.
Your lawyer may be able to show reasons why your sentence should be reduced or lightened. If you do not have a criminal past, have a steady work history, and good standing in the community, these things may be taken into consideration during sentencing.
Bank Fraud Investigation
Bank fraud investigations typically begin with an internal investigation by the bank or financial institution. Once it has been determined that a crime has been committed, the bank provides information to the police and the U.S. government.
The U.S. Secret Service is the governmental agency that is responsible for the investigations into acts that threaten the safety of U.S. banking systems. They have teams in place to investigate and gather evidence in bank fraud cases.
The U.S. Secret Service investigates many types of bank fraud cases, including:
- Check fraud
- Direct deposit fraud
- Check forgery
- Identity theft
- Automatic payment systems fraud
Investigations can be lengthy and complex. Your documents and computer may need to be turned over for review. A forensic accountant along with other professionals may be utilized as part of the investigation process.
Additionally, witnesses may be deposed to make statements regarding what they know about the crime. Your bank fraud lawyer will review the evidence and provide professionals to evaluate the documents and information. These professionals may be called upon to testify for your defense if the case goes to trial.
Defending Against Federal Bank Fraud Charges
It is best not to speak with law enforcement until you discuss the matter with a Chattanooga bank fraud lawyer. Your lawyer should be present when you are questioned so as to ensure your rights are not violated. Having an experienced bank fraud lawyer during your questioning will prevent you from saying anything that could prove difficult for your defense later.
If a warrant is issued for your arrest, you must make arrangements to turn yourself over to the authorities. You can do so with help from your bank fraud lawyer.
Do not destroy anything that may be perceived or classified as evidence against you as it may leading to additional charges. Instead, consult with your lawyer as soon as possible to determine what is harmful to your defense and what should be the next step.
If you have been arrested, an attorney can advocate for a reduction of charges and a lowered amount of bail, which will allow you to remain out of jail while the case is progressing.
How a Tennessee Bank Fraud Lawyer Can Help
If you have been charged with bank fraud, you need the experience and service of a bank fraud attorney as soon as possible. These are serious charges with severe penalties if convicted. You could lose your job and be unable to find employment if you are found guilty, not to mention facing heavy fines and potentially jail time.
Your finances and your family’s well-being could be in danger if you are convicted of a felony crime. For these reasons, it is imperative to retain experienced Chattanooga bank fraud lawyer that will fight and vigorously defend the charges brought against you.
After your initial consultation, your check fraud lawyer will immediately begin preparing your defense and working to resolve your case. Some of these types of cases are resolved through plea deals. A plea deal allows you to plead guilty to lesser charges in exchange for something, usually information.
If several people were arrested on charges of the same crime, all will face the same charges. Sometimes it might be beneficial to provide details to law enforcement in order to receive a lighter sentence. An experienced lawyer can help you determine what information may be useful to authorities and what could be damaging to your defense.
If negotiation does not result in a plea deal, your case will proceed to trial. Your lawyer will prepare your defense and gather the necessary documentation and information for trial.
Keep in mind that a plea arrangement may occur at any time up until the case is completely resolved. Your lawyer will help you decide whether it is in your best interest to accept a plea arrangement or take the case to trial.
Bank fraud cases can be lengthy and stressful for you and your loved ones. During this time, your life is in limbo and you are probably fearful of what might happen in the future. With an uncertain outlook, you need the assistance of a bank fraud lawyer who knows the law and understands how to strongly defend you throughout your case.
If you were charged with federal bank fraud, do not hesitate to contact Best & Brock, PLLC in Tennessee. The sooner your lawyer begins your defense, the better your chances are of a favorable outcome.
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