When it comes to bank fraud, there’s no two ways about it: It’s a serious crime that can have serious penalties in the event of a conviction.

Generally speaking, bank fraud occurs when an individual knowingly attempts to or executes fraud against a financial institution. Furthermore, the fraud must be carried out with the idea of obtaining money, funds, securities or some other form of assets.

According to the federal bank fraud statute, a conviction can lead to a fine as high as $1 million per charge. That’s in addition to a prison sentence of up to 30 years.

What does bank fraud look like?

Bank fraud takes on many forms, all of which are serious. These include but are not limited to:

  • Using stolen checks
  • Forging checks in an attempt to steal money from another individual
  • Impersonating a bank or another type of financial institution

Along with the above, using false information to make a financial gain can also fall under the category of bank fraud. For example, if you lie on a mortgage application in an attempt to obtain an approval, it could lead to bank fraud charges, among others.

What about credit cards?

Bank fraud and credit card fraud often go hand in hand. For instance, if you use false information to obtain a credit card, such as in someone else’s name, criminal charges can include bank fraud.

Even though it seems like a little white lie when you’re doing it, don’t ever stretch the truth when applying for a loan or credit card. While it doesn’t look like a big deal to you, the financial institution may feel differently.

What to do about bank fraud charges

As such a serious crime, bank fraud is not taken lightly by prosecutors. They’re on the lookout for people to make an example of, and that means you’re fighting an uphill battle.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to defend yourself against bank fraud charges.

Remember this: The government must have evidence to prove that you knowingly committed bank fraud. Digging up this evidence is easier said than done.

If you find yourself dealing with these serious charges, don’t waste any time learning more about your legal rights.