Bank Fraud Cases

The historic downturn in the banking industry here in Georgia and other states has resulted in many investigations that focus on bankers and those in other financial industries. Many of these investigations end up as criminal cases. Most criminal cases for alleged bank fraud are prosecuted in the federal courts, although we have represented some bank employees who were prosecuted in the State Courts of Georgia.

Federal prosecutors have a separate statute they can use to bring bank fraud charges against a Defendant. Section 1344 of Title 18 of the United States Code makes it a crime if a person “…knowingly executes, or attempts to execute, a scheme or artifice—(1) to defraud a financial institution; or (2) to obtain any of the moneys, 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…” Violation of this statute is punished by a fine up to $1,000,000, plus a potential prison sentence of up to 30 years. In other words, a federal bank fraud charge is very serious.

Most bank fraud matters involve situations in which prosecutors claim that somebody basically tried to get money from the bank by engaging in fraudulent conduct or lying about something. One classic method for committing bank fraud is to steal and then cash checks. A variation of this scheme is when somebody steals a real check, but then changes the name of the recipient and the amount of money for which the check was written. However, the two largest forms of federal bank fraud we have seen over the past decade involve real estate and credit cards.

The real estate version of bank fraud is related to the fact that banks are some of the largest players in the mortgage market. If a person lies in applying for a real estate mortgage, such a lie can result in a federal prosecution for bank fraud. Generally, federal prosecutors do not go after individual homeowners who lie on their loan application, but when groups of people do the same thing, they occasionally face federal prosecution. Real estate developers also have been charged with bank fraud for similar practices.

Bank fraud charges can be brought based on illegal conduct involving credit cards. Most credit cards are issued by nationally registered banking institutions, which is why a Defendant who engages in fraud related to credit cards could wind up facing federal bank fraud prosecution.

No matter what variety of bank fraud case is being considered, a person facing such charges needs an attorney who knows how these matters are handled. These cases can be document intensive and, quite often, extremely complicated. Federal prosecutors often use grand jury subpoenas and search warrants to gather documents in federal cases like this. Many bank fraud cases involve multiple Defendants, thus adding an extra level of complexity to the defense attorney’s job.

If you are being investigated or prosecuted for bank fraud, please make sure you get an attorney who is qualified to handle these complicated cases. At Kish & Lietz, we regularly handle bank fraud matters, and we have been doing so for years. If you or a loved one is facing a bank fraud matter, we would be glad to speak with you. Feel free to call (404) 588-3991, or contact us online.