What is Bank Fraud?
Bank fraud is any scheme developed with the attempt to defraud a bank or other financial institution. Though this crime does not involve a physical robbery of the bank, it is essentially the white collar version of this crime, where the funds are stolen in a stealthier fashion. There are many different activities which constitute bank fraud. These include but are by no means limited to:
- Altering or forging checks
- Credit card skimming
- Depositing empty bank envelopes
- Check kiting
- Filing fraudulent loan or mortgage applications
Bank fraud can also take place from within the institution. Bank employees can commit bank fraud by participating in identity theft, insider trading, wire fraud, and document forgery.
While bank fraud may seem like a crime that only punishes the larger institution, it can have a major impact on individual victims as well. Bank customers can have their identity stolen and face fraudulent charges on their accounts. Individuals who suspect they are the victim of such a crime should report it to their bank or financial institution as soon as possible.
Bank fraud is a federal crime that is investigated by federal agencies which have extensive resources at their disposal to uncover the nature of the crime. While some cases of bank fraud may at first seem innocent, such as depositing an empty envelope to get you through a tough week until you have the actual cash to provide, all instances are very serious crimes.
Punishment for Bank Fraud
The consequences for bank fraud are very severe. Every individual act can be charged separately. Thus, forging a series of checks in the same person’s name will not be charged as a single crime. Rather, each individual forgery can carry its own steep punishment. A single count of bank fraud can result in up to 30 years in Federal prison. Fines for bank fraud can be up to $1 million. The bank may elect to file a civil lawsuit as well to recover additional damages. The financial cost alone of bank fraud can quickly amount to far more than the criminal was able to steal.