Bank fraud is a very complex area of law that encompasses a number of different crimes. These include card fraud (credit or debit), passing bad checks, uninsured deposits, accounting fraud, fraudulent loans, rogue trading, impersonation, embezzlement, identity theft, and forgery. These are all financial fraud cases. In Ohio, they are charged not under the umbrella term of ‘bank fraud’, but rather on an individual basis. The most common forms of bank fraud in the state of Ohio is passing bad checks, and this is usually associated with some form of identity theft as well.
Laws and Penalties
Just like in other states, passing bad checks is a criminal act in Ohio. If you knowingly provide a bank with a check that will not be honored, or if you stop the check from being paid out, you could face criminal proceedings. The exact laws and penalties vary depending on the value of the check itself. As such:
- Up to $500 is classed as a 1st degree misdemeanor leading to no more than six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
- Between $500 and $5,000 to a single person is classed as a 5th degree felony, leading to between six and 12 months in prison and/or fines of up to $2,500.
- Between $1,000 and $5,000 to multiple people is classed as a 5th degree felony, leading to between six and 12 months in prison and/or fines of up to $2,500.
- Between $5,000 and $100,000 is classed as a 4th degree felony and leads to between six and 18 months in prison and/or up to $5,000 in fines.
This is covered under ORC 2913.11.
In many cases, this type of fraud is accompanied by identity fraud, which is a recently established law in the state of Ohio. It is very common for people charged with bank fraud to also face identity theft charges, therefore. Identity theft happens if you use someone else’s identifying information and pass it as your own, or if you otherwise represent yourself as someone else. Again, penalties vary depending on the amount you were able to defraud through identity theft. As such:
- Up to $500 is classed as a 5th degree felony and leads to between six and 12 months in prison and/or $2,500 in fines.
- Between $500 and $5,000 is classed as a 4th degree felony and leads to between six and 18 months in prison and/or a $5,000 fine.
- Between $5,00 and $100,000 is classed as a 3rd degree felony and leads to between one and five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.
- Over $100,000 is classed as a 2nd degree felony and leads to between two and eight years in prison and/or a $15,000 fine.
This is covered under ORC 2913.49.
Bank Fraud Defenses
In most cases, the crimes are committed by people who experience serious financial stress, although this is not an acceptable defense. However, it may be taken into consideration at sentencing or if/when a plea bargain is offered. On the other hand, it is not guaranteed that a plea bargain will be offered, or even accepted. The bank does have to prove that the accused acted ‘knowingly’, however, meaning that the said person really intended to defraud the bank. This is why most defenses try to demonstrate that the actions were not knowingly fraudulent. This can be incredibly difficult to do, however, as it has become virtually impossible to be in possession of a bad check. It is vital, however, to seek the help of an experienced bank fraud lawyer if you have been charged of such a crime. It is a very serious charge that could lead to severe punishments, including a significant amount of prison time.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations in Ohio for Fraud is four or five years, as covered under Oh. Rev. Code 2305.09(c) and Oh. Rev.Code 2305.112. The exact statute, therefore, depends on the nature of the crime with which someone has been accused. It is also important to understand that the statute can be rolled. If, for instance, the defendant is known to be outside of the country, the statute clock only ticks while the defendant is actually in this country.