Check Fraud Ring Busted in Central Florida
Local authorities in Central Florida recently shut down a seven-county check fraud ring. Over two dozen perpetrators were arrested for an operation that affected at least 80 victims.
Check fraud is a type of bank fraud that takes many forms. Fake check scams, trafficking in stolen checks, embezzlement, and “check kiting” are a few examples. In this case, the fraud ring would target wealthier neighborhoods in Brevard, Orange, Volusia, Flagler, Seminole, St. Johns, and Putnam counties. The perpetrators would look through mailboxes with outgoing flags in order to steal the mail. Any checks thus obtained would then be “washed” so the original writing would be erased and the instrument could be forged with the perpetrators’ names. All in all, this particular ring was able to forge more than $30,000 in checks.
The Many Faces of Check Fraud
This may seem like a straightforward crime, and in this case perhaps it was, but check fraud can take on other complex forms. For example, a check fraud ring may steal or otherwise obtain a corporate payroll. This allows them to forge checks at a much larger scale, put that money in a new bank account with a forged name, and write or deposit blank checks. Individuals who are paid out of those accounts may then be held accountable. Check kiting is another established member of this family of white collar crimes. This crime begins at the moment a check is deposited into an account even though it has not been withdrawn from the originating account. Prior to the check being cleared, the money is withdrawn from the receiving account. This allows for parties to benefit from non-existent funds. Often check kiting schemes involve countless such transactions pinging back and forth between the same originating and receiving accounts.
The Penalties for Check or Bank Fraud
In Florida, check or bank fraud results in significant fines and/or jail or prison time. In misdemeanor cases one may face only one year in jail and a small fine; but if you are hit with felony fraud charges, you could face up to 15 years in prison and fines up to $10,000. Individuals who benefit from fraudulent checks may also be held responsible, even if they did not steal or forge the checks themselves.
Because Florida is a frequent target state for federal and state authorities responsible for investigating fraud, any hint that you’re involved in some form of bank fraud will result in the authorities knocking on your door. You will need an experienced white collar defense attorney who can defend you in federal or state court.
If You Think You May Need A Lawyer, YOU DO. Call Now!
Are you looking for a skilled attorney who can help defend you against bank fraud charges in either state or federal court? Please contact Attorney Tony Moss at the Tony Moss Firm, L.L.C. to discuss these or any other defense matters. He has locations in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, and is prepared to put his experience to work for you.