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Check Fraud

For most people, they’d never think to write a check they couldn’t cover with funds from their bank. Unfortunately, tough times and financial hardship can make people do things they wouldn’t normally. Issuing a check without the funds to back it up is considered a Class B Misdemeanor. It comes with jail time as well as fines. It’s never a good idea to write a check you can’t cover, but if you’re arrested, a lawyer can help you minimize the damage to your reputation and your personal freedom.

The Laws Regarding Check Fraud

According to article 190 of the New York Penal Code, issuing a bad check means the person who writes the check is called the drawer. This drawer utters a check with full knowledge that there are insufficient funds to cover it. It also includes passing a check knowing it will be refused but doing it anyway.

Terms You Might Hear

During the investigation or when you’re arrested, you’ll likely have heard terms that might have been confusing. These terms refer to the act of passing or writing a bad check.

Check
This is any draft or paper that is used as a payment of money.

Drawer
This person’s name appears on the check, but it might not be the person who brought the check for payment.

Representative Drawer
This is an agent of the drawer who has signed the check as the representative.

Pass
This is a person who passes a check written by someone else.

Funds
The money or credit available in the account are the funds.

Insufficient Funds
This means there isn’t enough money to cover the amount of the check.

Utter
When a check is delivered to a person who expects payment, the check has been uttered.

Types of Check Fraud

Forgery
This is when a person writes a check on an account that doesn’t belong to them. It usually occurs with false identification too. Criminals may steal a check and endorse it for payment without the drawers permission.

Counterfeiting and Alteration
Counterfeiting is normally done with a computer, publishing software and printing equipment. The criminal will create a replica of a check or scan a real check with advanced scanning equipment.

Alteration involves taking real checks and wiping the amounts and signature from the check itself. This is also called check washing.

Paperhanging
This term means that people are writing checks on accounts that have been closed. The closed accounts could be theirs or someone else’s account. They’ll also reorder checks on closed accounts.

Check Kiting
Someone who is kiting a check will open two bank accounts and float the money from one account to the other. It creates fake balances that can be used to bounce checks.

Defenses Against Check Fraud

There are defenses to writing a bad check or check fraud. If you are able to make good on the check within 10 days, you won’t be charged with a crime. Often, the courts will understand that mistakes in bookkeeping can happen. Another defense is when you’re representing your employer in the transaction and didn’t know the check was bad.

Check fraud can come with more serious charges like identity theft, which is a Class D felony and can carry up to 7 years in prison. You’ll need a good lawyer to help you with your case. Check fraud isn’t a charge you should face alone.

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