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Being convicted of a bank fraud offence can have serious consequences for both your professional and personal life. Finding a team of experienced bank fraud solicitors with the necessary knowledge and expertise to defend what are often extremely complex bank fraud cases, is vital.
As well as a custodial sentence, those convicted of bank fraud may also face a substantial fine, a confiscation order (confiscating any benefit from the crime) and disqualification from being a director of a company.
Having an experienced team of bank fraud solicitors on your side, who can advise you throughout the process and represent you in court, if necessary, is invaluable.
Bank fraud is an umbrella term which is used to refer to a number of different types of fraud. Bank fraud includes various different offences, such as fraud by false representation and conspiracy to defraud.
If you are accused of any bank fraud offence, it is crucial that you seek legal advice as soon as possible.
From a consumer standpoint, many people have been affected in some way by bank fraud. For example, schemes designed to get a customer to hand over their banking details, with the aim of taking money from their account, are relatively common. In fact, banking fraud cases have risen significantly during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Other types of bank fraud include:
Both individuals and companies can commit bank fraud.
The Fraud Act 2006 and the Theft Act 1968 detail the main bank fraud offences in England and Wales.
However, there are other offences which are dealt with in other statutes, such as those related to tax.
Three well-known banking fraud offences are detailed in the Fraud Act 2006:
Each of these three offences includes the requirement that the person involved has acted dishonestly and intended to gain something for themselves (or another person) or to cause another person to lose something (or be exposed to a risk of loss).
The two main bank fraud offences in the Theft Act 1968 are:
The offence of conspiracy to defraud is a common law offence. Common law, or case law, is the law which originates from judicial decisions, rather than from statutes.
All of these banking fraud offences can be committed by both individuals and by corporates.
The bank fraud offences of fraud by failing to disclose information, fraud by false representation and fraud by abuse of position (all under the Fraud Act 2006), as well as the common law bank fraud offence of conspiracy to defraud, carry a maximum of 10 years in prison.
False accounting and false statements by company directors (banking fraud offences under the Theft Act 1968) have a maximum sentence of 7 years in prison.
As well as a custodial sentence, those convicted of banking fraud may also face a substantial fine, a confiscation order (confiscating any benefit from the crime) and disqualification from being a director of a company.
The court will first determine the offence category by assessing both culpability and harm.
Factors which could indicate high culpability include (Category A):
Factors which could indicate lesser culpability include (Category C):
Where the offence does not fall into category A or category C, it could fall into category B (medium culpability).
An assessment of harm caused is initially made with regard to the intended, risked or actual loss which may arise from the offence.
Risk of loss is considered to be less serious than actual or intended loss. This means that for the harm categories described below, the courts would normally (unless the likelihood or the risked loss was very high) move down one category.
When there is a risk of category 5 harm, it would be necessary to move down the sentencing range within that category.
Harm to the victim (or others) is also taken into account, in order to help the court decide whether the sentence should be increased within the category range, or even moved up to the next category.
If the bank fraud offence had ‘high impact’, such as if the offence resulted in a serious detrimental effect on the victim (financial or otherwise), the court can move up a category.
If the offence had ‘medium impact’ (the offence had a considerable detrimental effect on the victim), the court can move upwards within the category range.
If the offence had ‘lesser impact’, then the court could decide to make no adjustment.
Once the offence category is determined with regards to both culpability and harm as described above, the court will then have a starting point sentence for the offence.
For example, with regards to the banking fraud offence of conspiracy to defraud, if the offence was found to fall into category 1 for harm and category A for culpability, the starting point would be 7 years in prison.
If the offence was found to fall into category 5 for harm and category C for culpability, the starting point would be a Band B fine.
For the offence of false accounting (under the Theft Act 1968), the starting point sentence for a category 1 (harm) and category A (culpability) offence would be 5 years and 6 months in prison.
For a category 5 and category C offence, the starting point would again be a Band B fine.
If aggravating factors are present, such as attempts to dispose of evidence or attempting to stop the victim reporting the offence, the sentence can be increased.
If mitigating factors are present, such as the offender showing remorse, the sentence could be decreased.
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