Bank fraud is any illegal act used to procure money or property from a bank or other financial institution. As with other types of fraud, the crime involves a scheme by which a perpetrator gains something of value from the bank by using deceit .

If you’ve been charged in a bank fraud case, Attorney Michael J. Petro can provide you with the criminal defense services you need. Petro is an aggressive attorney with nearly three decades of experience serving clients in Cook County, Chicago and Illinois.

What Constitutes Bank Fraud?

Federal statutes broadly define bank fraud as any type of deception used with the intent of defrauding a bank or other financial organization. A financial institution can be a federally insured credit union or bank, along with mortgage lenders, Federal Reserve banks and others that accept deposits. It also can target individual depositors and other customers of financial institutions.

A number of offenses related to fraud — including writing bad checks or forging loan documents — can fall under the umbrella of bank fraud. Additionally, other white-collar crimes such as money laundering can use a financial institution as part of a larger criminal enterprise.

Individuals suspected of engaging in illegal activities related to bank fraud can be investigated and prosecuted by either the federal government or the state of Illinois.

Types of Bank Fraud

The illegal use of checks to receive cash or goods is a frequently used form of bank fraud. One example is check kiting, in which an individual writes a check to the bank for cash although the account does not contain sufficient funds due to outstanding checks or debits.

Another type of bank fraud is forgery, involving submitting an altered check for payment. Under this type of scheme, checks may be stolen from the mail or from an individual’s wallet or purse.  The thief then forger’s the account holder’s signature to the stolen check to obtain goods or services.

Uninsured deposits also provide a source of bank fraud crimes. Some large-scale cases have involved uninsured or unlicensed banks taking deposits while posing as regular financial institutions.

Fraud cases related to letters of credit involve offering false documentation showing that goods were shipped when they were not. In some cases, such fake letters of credit, which are issued by banks, have been offered as investments.

In a bank theft scheme, a perpetrator uses post offices, individuals’ mailboxes or mail rooms in office buildings to steal checks, which are then used to create new checks or to open new accounts.

Under another investment scheme known as prime bank note fraud, international perpetrators offer investors high yield investment returns with a short turnaround. The fraud rests on a claim of access to bank guarantees that the perpetrators are able to buy cheaply and sell at a premium. However, the alleged excellent returns come from reselling the investments multiple times.

Fighting Bank Fraud Charges

The penalties for crimes related to bank fraud can be severe. Anyone who knowingly carries out or attempts to carry out a scheme to defraud a bank — or to obtain any of the money or assets the bank controls — can be fined as much as $1 million. In addition, an individual convicted of bank fraud can face a prison term up to 30 years.

Prosecutors generally must prove that a defendant in a bank fraud case acted intentionally and that the defendant was aware of obtaining money or other property through deceptive means.

To create a defense against bank fraud charges an attorney must convince that the accused person did not intend to deceive a bank or it’s customers, despite improperly receiving something of value.

Are You Under Investigation for Bank Fraud?

The State of Illinois and the federal government aggressively prosecute suspected bank fraud cases. If you are convicted of bank fraud, you can face a long prison sentence and a fine of as much as $1 million. For immediate legal assistance, please contact Michael J. Petro.