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Check Fraud Penalties

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What Is Check Fraud?

Check fraud refers to certain types of crime involving fake, forged or deceptive checks. These are often used by persons seeking to make purchases, obtain bank account funds, or finance transactions. Businesses and organizations can also be found liable for check fraud. Check fraud is illegal and can also result in a civil action to cover losses.

What Are the Legal Penalties for Check Fraud?

The legal penalties for check fraud can involve either misdemeanor charges of felony charges. Misdemeanor check fraud convictions can result in criminal fines and jail time of up to one year. On the other hand, felony charges may result in felony charges, which lead to more serious penalties. These include greater criminal fines as well as a prison sentence of more than one year.

The difference in sentencing for check fraud crimes is often dependent on the amount of money involved. For instance, writing a fake check for $200 will usually result in a misdemeanor charge, whereas a fake check for thousands of dollars may result in a felony. In many states, the dividing line between misdemeanor charges and felony charges is $500. Repeat offenses can also lead to greater legal penalties.

What Are Some Examples of Check Fraud Cases?

There are many different types of check fraud, including:

  • Forging a check (i.e., using fake ID or a fake signature to authorize a check)
  • Knowingly writing checks on an account that has been closed (called "paperhanging")
  • Counterfeiting checks
  • "Check kiting" – This is where a person manipulates the amount of money withdrawn using a check and multiple accounts (usually drawing more than is contained in one account)

Also, false or fraudulent checks can sometimes serve as the basis for a credit scam. For instance, a fraudster might have a person endorse a fake check in order to obtain their personal information or signature.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Check Fraud Penalties?

Check fraud cases can often result in some very serious legal consequences. You may wish to hire a qualified criminal law attorney if you are being involved in check fraud charges. Your attorney can provide you with legal services and advice, and can represent you during formal court meetings.

Photo of page author Jose Rivera

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 11-09-2017 01:03 AM PST

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