Federal Bank Fraud – 18 U.S.C. § 1344
The federal bank fraud statute is designed to protect banks. Banks are obviously the fabric of our federal system and any manipulation or tampering with banks or their money will obviously be met with harsh consequences. The federal prosecutors and federal agents like the FBI are tasked with protecting our banks, their assets, and it is crucial that anybody who is charged with federal bank fraud allegations gets an experienced federal criminal defense attorney to help them.
Really what's going on is that Section 1344 of the United States Code is designed to protect banks from fraudulent schemes. Anyone trying to perpetrate some sort of a scheme against a bank – obviously in order to get money from the bank – is going to be prosecuted under this particular Code Section. Another angle that can be used to prosecute under bank fraud laws is that basically, someone is trying to obtain money or securities or some other thing of value that the federal government holds under false pretenses. In other words, they're using a false name. They're getting money through false means by for example, stealing somebody's information in order to get federal money through the bank, through loans or through other means.
If another individual is attempting to gain money by false pretenses and there's a connection to a bank, then that person can be criminally prosecuted and be facing up to thirty years in federal prison, significant fines, probation and other terms and conditions that a court might deem appropriate.
When it comes to misrepresentations to a bank, obviously those misrepresentations have to be serious enough to be able to trigger the federal bank laws. In other words, the misrepresentations or the false pretenses or the scheme must be material. It can't just be some small thing that really doesn't have any significance and the government can't prove that the person was trying to obtain money or some other credit by false pretenses.
When you talk about the materiality of whatever the scheme is or whatever the false pretenses are, they are going to look at really what you did and then use a common-sense approach to see whether or not you have committed bank fraud or whether or not you have just made a simple honest mistake that doesn't deserve to be prosecuted at the federal level.
Federal bank fraud is more and more occurring across the United States and the feds obviously do not like it when banks are being defrauded out of money because they federally insure those banks, so indirectly the government is losing money on all these cases where people are stealing or tricking banks out of money.
Federal bank fraud can take many different forms. Basically, it has to do with someone defrauding a financial institution for money, funds, credits, assets, security or some other type of property and there are all sorts of different schemes that the federal government guards against.
When it comes to federal bank fraud, a lot of times what they're looking at in order to get the feds involved is the sophistication level of what is going on and also the amount of money that's taken. The more money that is taken from the bank, the more likely the FBI is going to come in to play and start the investigation.
This is significant because the FBI has a lot of different investigative tools available to them and manpower available to them that the states simply do not possess. Obviously, they are going to pull all the cameras in the bank if the fraud takes place inside the bank and they have all sorts of surveillance that they can use and other investigative tools that are very sophisticated and can get results when it comes to a federal bank fraud investigation.
Defenses Related To Federal Bank Fraud – 18 U.S.C. § 1344
One defense that is always available in a federal bank fraud case – not only in Los Angeles, California – but across the United States in any of the federal courts – is that you basically had an innocent intent. You weren't trying to defraud out of money. You weren't trying to commit some sort of a plan or scheme.
When we do these bank fraud cases, one of the first things we're looking at is, what was the person trying to do? How would the person benefit from whatever it is the government was claiming that they did that was fraudulent and was designed to try to get government money in an illegal manner? Because again, if you have an innocent intent and we can show that you had an innocent intent, then you would have an argument that you were not guilty of any type of a bank fraud scheme or plan.
Examples of situations where somebody could be charged with bank fraud and successfully prosecuted are those people who work at a bank and are helping their friends out or somehow giving a benefit to somebody that that benefit somehow comes back to them.
In other words, let's say that somebody works as a loan processor and they give a friend or somebody they know a loan that normally shouldn't get it because they don't have the credit and the money to be able to get that, and then they get a piece of the money back from the friend or person that they know, in exchange for helping them. That would obviously be bank fraud because you have a plan. It's not legal. It's against the bank's policies and somebody's getting money and you're getting money.
So, there're all sorts of different plans that I've defended over the course of the last twenty-five years in defending these bank fraud cases, and really what you need to do is huddle up with somebody like me who has the experience and has handled these bank fraud cases – not only throughout Los Angeles, California – but throughout the nation and really get down to the nitty-gritty of what you did, what you didn't do, and what the government can prove and what they can't prove. Then you will be in a position to really evaluate your case and decide what the next best move is.
What Can You Do To Defend Yourself?
Obviously, the first thing you want to do if you're facing a federal bank fraud charge is sit down with a criminal defense attorney who does federal litigation and who also has handled bank fraud cases at the federal level. The state and the feds are very different, and you definitely want somebody who is familiar with how a federal case is prosecuted, especially when it comes to bank fraud. As indicated above, a lot of what they are looking at in a federal bank fraud case is the amount of what is taken.
As the amount goes higher, the potential punishment goes higher for the person that's involved with it. A lot of times I see large conspiracies where multiple people are involved – thousands, even millions of dollars are being taken from a bank or banks – and that's when the feds get involved. As soon as it hits interstate commerce, as soon as it hits a bank, the federal government is going to become involved.
They have all sorts of assets available to investigate these cases through surveillance, wire-tapping, phone pinging, and obviously using the cameras within the bank. So, if you're charged with federal bank fraud, you get in front of an attorney and give him all the information that you have related to your case and then you both come up with a game plan on exactly how you're going to deal with the case.
It's crucial that you are honest with your attorney when you're charged with a federal bank fraud case and give them all the details and facts necessary to properly defend you. Also, don't omit anything or try to put a spin on what happened. Really let them know what happened. When I defense these cases, when my clients give me all the information, obviously this starts to level the playing field so that I can really defend the case for them and deal with the federal government.
Retain the Services of an Experienced Federal Lawyer
What I like to decide from the outset in a federal bank fraud case is – are we going to try to get a not guilty verdict at a jury trial, or are we going to try to work out some sort of a deal with the feds. Once I have this information, then I can tell you what you can do to help me, and I can give you an idea of what I'm going to do to help you. Then we can work together as a team in order to get the best possible result in your federal bank fraud case. We'll sit down, dissect the evidence together and then make the decisions that are necessary for you to get the best result.
Bank fraud is very serious and if not handled properly can result in a 30 years prison sentence and a fine of up to $1 million. Federal agencies find it very offensive and take it very seriously when a federally insured bank is defrauded and for this reason, prosecutors do everything they can to have the alleged suspect convicted.
Bank Fraud has many different tactics such as wire fraud or mail fraud through a bank; forging checks; creating false documents or counterfeiting documents such as loan documents.
If you are facing bank fraud charges, it is very important that you hire a Defense Attorney that is not only experienced but knowledgeable on all federal law and court procedures. Things in federal court are handled differently especially when it comes to cases like fraud.
The Hedding Law Firm can provide the assistance and services you will need. We guarantee to provide dedicated representation. Call and set up a free initial consultation.