Federal Bank Fraud – 18 U.S.C. § 1344
Bank fraud under 18 U.S.C. 1344 includes an employee's theft or embezzlement of money and an extensive scheme to defraud, such as unlawfully using loaned money, false loan application, and fraudulent property evaluation.
Simply put, this statute makes it illegal to defraud a bank or participate in any scheme to defraud a financial institution. Bank fraud typically involves illegal cheating and is one of the most common federal offenses.
Bank auditors will often review records for fraud. Suppose they discover credible evidence of bank fraud. In that case, they will refer the matter to the federal prosecutor's office for a potential indictment.
18 U.S.C. 1344 says, “Whoever knowingly executes, or attempts to execute, a scheme or artifice (1) to defraud a financial institution; or
(2) to obtain any of the money, funds, credits, assets, securities, or other property owned by, or under the custody or control of, a financial institution, by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises; shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned not more than 30 years, or both.”
18 U.S.C. 1014, a closely related federal crime, occurs when you submit false statements to a financial institution.
“Fraud” in the context of this law is an intentionally false statement intended to induce somebody's reliance on their loss. The federal jury instructions say that fraud is primarily a crime of intent, meaning it was not by mistake.
This means the perpetrator has to know that their false statements will cause a loss in a bank transaction. Simply put, the deception or cheating was intentional.
The financial institutions covered under this statute are federally chartered or insured by the federal government, such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). There are over 4,000 federally insured banks. In addition, state-chartered banks and credit unions have similar anti-fraud protection as federally chartered banks.
If you or a loved one is charged with federal bank fraud, you want to get an attorney with experience handling these types of offenses. They can come up in several different ways. But usually, when the government get involved, it involves large sums of money and some sophisticated means of committing the bank fraud-related offense.
What Are Some Bank Fraud Examples?
18 U.S.C. 1344 bank fraud can occur in many different ways, including some deliberate acts described below:
- over-stating your actual income on a loan application;
- false financial statements to qualify for a loan;
- omitting bankruptcy, debts, or defaults on a loan application;
- using a fictitious name to hide your credit history;
- committing identity theft for financial incentives;
- withdraw funds with a forged signature or altered payee name;
- withdraw funds from bank account fraudulently;
- depositing with empty envelopes;
- stealing credit-card numbers to use fraudulently.
What are the Related Federal Laws?
18 U.S. Code Chapter 63 mail fraud and other fraud offenses have several federal statutes that are related to 18 U.S.C. 1344, including the following:
- 18 U.S.C. 1341 – mail fraud;
- 18 U.S.C. 1342 – fictitious name or address;
- 18 U.S.C. 1343 – wire fraud;
- 18 U.S.C. 1345 – injunctions against fraud:
- 18 U.S.C. 1346 – definition of scheme or artifice to defraud;
- 18 U.S.C. 1347 – health care fraud;
- 18 U.S.C. 1348 – securities and commodities fraud;
- 18 U.S.C. 1349 – attempt and conspiracy;
- 18 U.S.C. 1350 – failure of corporate officers to certify financial reports;
- 18 U.S.C. 1351 – fraud in foreign labor contracting;
- 18 U.S.C. 1001 – false statements;
- 18 U.S.C. 1014 – loan application;
- 18 U.S.C. 1005 – false bank entries;
- 18 U.S.C. 201 – bribery;
- 18 U.S.C. 656 – embezzlement.
It's common for anyone accused of bank fraud to be indicted on multiple charges under different laws.
What Are the Defenses for 18 U.S.C. 1344?
Suppose you are under investigation for bank fraud. In that case, don't make any statements to federal law enforcement agents trying to gather evidence against you.
You have a Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and a Sixth Amendment right to a lawyer.
To convict you of violating federal bank fraud laws, prosecutors must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, all the elements of the crime. Notably, fraud-related charges are often difficult to prove because they involve someone's guilty state of mind. Our federal criminal defense lawyers could use different strategies for the best outcome.
For example, perhaps we can argue that you made a careless mistake dealing with the bank, such as inaccurately listing information making your financial condition look better. In other words, it was an error but not an intentional act.
Perhaps we can argue that you innocently left off information from financial documents. Perhaps alleged altered or incomplete documents were prepared by other people.
Perhaps we can argue that your acts are not evidence of deception and fraud, even if they benefit you financially. Maybe we can say that your conduct was not deliberately deceptive.
I have you come into the office, and we sit down and discuss the best strategy for your particular case. Give me all the truthful information about your case so I can evaluate it and decide exactly what the best moves are as we progress with your federal criminal case.
Sometimes, we can fight the charges, take the chance to trial, and win. In other cases, the government has done its homework, has the evidence, and is going to be able to prove the bank fraud against you.
Thus, we will come up with a different strategy, where we work out a plea agreement with the prosecutors and try to put you in the best possible position. We will go through the sentencing guidelines with you. We go through your criminal history. We compiled a mitigation package and figured out how best to defend you.
If you or your loved one has not appeared in front of a judge yet, we've got to be prepared for the detention hearing, where you can be taken not custody and held without any bond or bail while the case is pending. The second step is that we will be assigned to a federal judge. We will see who that judge is, their tendencies, and what makes sense moving forward as we best defend you.
You can contact us for a free case evaluation by phone or using the contact form. In addition, we provide legal representation across the United States on federal criminal matters. The Hedding Law Firm is located in Los Angeles, CA.