Bank Fraud

Menlo Park Laundromat Charged with Credit Card Fraud (CA Penal Code 484e-484j)

A 63-year-old man (name withheld to protect the anonymity of the accused) was arrested recently for having cheated customers at his Menlo Park Laundromat, Menalto Cleaners.  It is suspected that the man used credit cards and other personal information that he received from his customers in good faith to skim both small and large amounts of money from each individual.  He has been charged with stealing from upwards of 3-dozen different customers (approximately $678,000) by overcharging them for laundry services, which amounts to 40 felony counts for identity theft, credit card fraud, and others.

California courts take charges of credit card fraud very seriously (CA Penal Code 484e-484j).  It is unlawful in California to participate in any type of illegal behavior relating to credit cards or personal information that an individual might find on a credit card.  Prosecutors must, however, prove that you intended to use this information for fraudulent purposes, and that you unlawfully gained some advantage (financial or otherwise) due to your actions.

Depending on the particular circumstances of your case, if you are convicted of a violation of one of the above-listed laws, you may be prosecuted in several different ways.  Your situation may be treated as ‘forgery,’ in which you may end up spending up to 16 months in county jail and paying a maximum fine of $10,000.  Of course, prosecutors could also treat your case as theft.  Additionally, federal agents may become involved under certain conditions.

 

Daly City Couple Charged with Bank Fraud in Federal Court (18 United States Code 1344)

61-year-old and his 58-year-old wife (name withheld in order to protect the privacy of the accused), have pled guilty recently in federal court to charges of bank fraud.  Allegedly, the two defrauded both First California Bank and a Wells Fargo Bank out of approximately $83,000 for home loan monies.  Evidently, they offered false statements on both bank documents and on certain income tax documents in order to shave off various fees and other changes to their loans.  For one, the couple falsely told both banks that the two homes (one in San Bruno and one in Daly City), both separate from their current residence, were to be their primary residence, thus altering the amount they would pay.  These loans for these two homes were taken out in 2006 and 2007 and the properties were valued then at $750,000 and $600,000.  The couple will be sentenced in a federal court this coming November.

The federal law that covers bank fraud is 18 United States Code 1344.  If any individual purposefully attempts to defraud a financial institution or gives false statements of the same, they could be convicted under this rule.  If it can be proven that any individual has committed bank fraud, they would be subject to a $1,000 fine and a term of 30 years in federal prison.  However, due to the nature of the case, they will most likely end up spending somewhere between 1 year and 18 months in a federal prison.

 

Zendesk Hacker Faces Federal Charges for Computer Fraud (18 United States Code 1030)

25-year-old Massachusetts man (name withheld in order to protect the privacy of the accused), is the hacker who managed to gain access to Twitter’s help desk company, Zendesk.  He was able to access Twitter clients’ ‘trouble tickets,’ obtain clients’ protected information, and to then take advantage of all this to reset passwords for at least 2 major companies, Jeep and “Company A” (an alias for an unnamed company involved in the case).  After that, he was able to post anything he wanted to on these companies Twitter accounts, including one post that “Company A” had been sold to their competition.  It’s not hard to imagine the ruckus his actions created; he’s also been in trouble for changing his own grades (and the grades of others), stealing credit card information, and hacking into the computer system of local police stations for which he has already been federally charged.  In the case involving Zendesk, he has been charged with violations of the “Computer Fraud and Abuse Act,” otherwise known as the CFAA (18 United States Code 1030): “damaging a computer for information.”

What he did, according to the feds, is to purposefully attempt to damage a ‘protected computer.’  The CFAA, passed in 1984, defines a ‘protected computer’ as any computer used for a financial institution or by the United States Government.  However, computers used for “interstate communication” are also covered under this Act.  He could face up to 10 years (or more) in federal prison and hefty fines.

 

S.F. Woman Arrives in Court Charged with Credit Card Fraud, Leaves Accused of Additional Crimes (CA Penal Code 484e – 484j)

33-year-old S.F. woman (name withheld in order to protect the privacy of the accused) was arrested on charges of credit card fraud and appeared in court for her arraignment.  Already having posted $10,000 in bail, she was shocked to hear in court that her bail was going to be increased (to $50,000) and that she would not be going home that day.  What was the problem?  She promptly informed the judge of a serious problem.  Evidently, her 3-year-old daughter had been sitting in a locked car in the nearby parking lot the entire time she was in the courtroom.  When officers retrieved the child, they also found hypodermic needles filled with what law enforcement officials believe to be methamphetamines, other drug paraphernalia, and other evidence concerning further credit card fraud.  Charges against her now include drug-related accusations, probation violations, and felony child endangerment.

On the credit card fraud charges alone (CA Penal Code 484e – 484j), she could find herself facing up to 3 years in state prison and a maximum $10,000 fine.  Child endangerment, on the other hand, could be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor in California (this is what is known as a ‘wobbler’).  Misdemeanor charges could mean up to 1 year in county jail, but felony child endangerment charges are a bit more complicated.  Depending on the severity of the situation, the level of endangerment, penalties could extend anywhere from 2 to 6 years in state prison.

 

Attorney Found Guilty of Burglary and Check Fraud in Foster City (CA Penal Code 459 and 476)

Some people say that 58-year-old (name withheld in order to protect the privacy of the accused) should have known better.  After all, he is an attorney and he’s meant to understand at least one thing, the law.  However, others would argue that he simply made a silly mistake.  It all began when he went to a Chase Bank in Foster City and presented a teller with what he suspected to be a fraudulent check for $280,000.  In fact, he asked the teller to cash the check.

When the case went to a jury, they had a hard time believing him. In short, they found him guilty of both burglary and check fraud.  He is no longer allowed to practice law in the state of California.  His side of the story is that he wanted the bank to confirm that the check was a fake.  He even tried to take it back when the teller became wary of cashing a check for such a large amount.

A California burglary conviction (CA Penal Code 459) comes with harsh penalties.  Weissman was convicted of commercial second degree burglary as he attempted to defraud a place of business.  It’s a ‘wobbler,’ meaning that it may be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or a felony.  A felony conviction could result in up to 3 years in state prison; a misdemeanor conviction could end in 1 year in county jail.  Check fraud (CA Penal Code 476) is also a California wobbler.  A misdemeanor conviction could result in a maximum $1,000 fine and 1 year in county and a felony conviction means you could face a $10,000 fine and up to 3 years in state prison.