Tampa Bank Fraud Lawyer
Bank fraud is a serious criminal charge which can easily sweep in unwitting participants in a fraudulent scheme. Under federal law, anyone convicted of even a single count of bank fraud faces a maximum of 30 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine. Because most fraudulent schemes involve multiple fraudulent acts, a defendant could easily spend the remainder of their life in prison. Hiring a Tampa bank fraud lawyer is key to protecting your liberty.
The Federal Bank Fraud Statute
The federal statute can be found at 18 U.S.C. § 1344. It states that a person has committed bank fraud when they knowingly execute or attempt to execute any scheme to defraud a financial institution. It also prohibits obtaining money or other assets (like securities) from a financial institution using fraudulent promises or representations.
This is a broadly written law. All sorts of illegal conduct could be prosecuted as bank fraud:
- Altered checks
- Forged checks
- Stolen checks
- Credit card fraud
- Credit card skimming
- Debit card fraud
- Loan application fraud
- Identity theft
- Mortgage fraud
- Internet banking fraud
- Phishing scams
Defending Against Bank Fraud Charges
Those accused of bank fraud should immediately contact an attorney. Because penalties are so steep, a vigorous defense is justified, and a bank fraud defense attorney needs as much time as possible to pull together a compelling defense.
The right defense will depend on the facts of the case. At our firm, we avoid “cookie cutter” defenses which might work for some cases but not others. In our experience, the most common defenses are raised to defend against bank fraud charges:
- The defendant’s lack of knowledge. By its very language, the law requires that the defendant knowingly execute or attempt to execute a scheme. Some people, including low-level bank employees or straw purchasers, might lack the knowledge that they are participating in a scheme to defraud a financial institution. Likewise, negligently presenting a bad check to a bank teller is not enough to support a conviction if you did not know the check was stolen or forged.
- No false pretenses or misrepresentations. There is no violation of the law if the defendant made only accurate representations. For example, the information on a loan application could have been correct at the time the application was submitted.
- The prosecution’s lack of evidence. Prosecutors need high quality evidence, including testimony from credible witnesses, to garner a conviction. Investigators might have illegally obtained evidence, which we can get tossed out of court, or the prosecutor could lack evidence on a crucial element of the case.
Unfortunately, some defendants hand incriminating evidence to investigators on a silver platter by turning over laptops voluntarily or answering police questioning. If the police or FBI reach out to you, contact a bank fraud attorney. All suspects have a Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.
Contact Our Tampa Bank Fraud Attorney Today
An indictment is not a conviction. Anyone accused of a federal crime deserves experienced legal counsel to defend them and hold the prosecution to its burden of proof. Contact Trombley & Hanes today to speak with an experienced Tampa bank fraud lawyer.