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Check Fraud

Check fraud is a term commonly used when you write a check to pay for goods and services with the intent to defraud. In other words, check fraud can occur when a person knows they don’t have enough money in the bank  to cover the amount or the check was written on a closed account.  . There are, however, other crimes that can be classified as a form of New York check fraud.

Fake checks

Most banking services have migrated to the Internet, an advantage that criminals use to access check images and replicate them using computer software and a high-tech color copier. Anyone convicted of counterfeiting checks in this manner can also be charged with wire fraud and computer fraud, as they involve use of the Internet and unauthorized access to an online banking system. These are federal offenses that can add up to 20 years to your sentence.

Payday loan check fraud

The proliferation of payday loans in U.S. cities has produced a corresponding rise in check fraud charges. Borrowers write post-dated checks or provide access to their bank accounts to repay the loans, only to have insufficient funds in the accounts when the time comes. Sometimes they even close the accounts to prevent automatic payment withdrawals.

Check washing

This form of fraud involves erasing check content so that it can be rewritten. Criminals use solvents to remove ink from the check paper, so information such as recipient and amount payable can be changed. According to the consumer protection website “No Identity Theft”, 73% of American banks reported losses totaling close to $900 million due to check washing.

Check kiting

Check kiting takes place when you open accounts at multiple banks and write checks from one account to the next to create the false impression that there are funds in them. For example: you write a $5,000 check on the account at Bank A (which only has a $100 balance) and deposit it in Bank B. During the time that it takes for Bank B to clear the check, you write a $5,000 check at Bank B and deposit it at Bank A to cover the first one. By continuing to write bad checks this way, you essentially get a $5,000 interest-free loan illegally.

The penalties for check fraud depend on whether you are charged at the state or federal level as well as how much money you allegedly stole. At the very least, you can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor, which is the basic crime of knowingly issuing a bad check. It is a felony federal offense to knowingly and illegally obtain money or assets from a financial institution: if convicted, then you may face a penalty of up to 30 years in prison and up to a $1,000,000 fine.

Whether you are facing state or federal charges, consult a New York check fraud defense attorney as soon as you are arrested or believe you are about to be. Many people charged with check fraud did not knowingly commit a crime: for example, you forgot about another check due to clear the same day, leaving you with insufficient funds, or you did not know that you were cashing a washed check. Your check fraud attorney will help you present possible defenses to your case, negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecutor, or fight for you at trial.

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