Bank Fraud

From ArticleWorld

In the broadest sense, a fraud is a deception made for personal gain, although it has a more specific legal meaning, the exact details varying between jurisdictions. Many hoaxes are fraudulent, although those not made for personal gain are not best described in this way. Not all frauds are hoaxes - electoral fraud, for example. Fraud permeates many areas of life, including art, archaeology and science. In the broad legal sense a fraud is any crime or civil wrong for gain that utilises some deception practiced on the victim as its principal method.In criminal law, fraud is the crime or offense of deliberately deceiving another in order to damage them — usually, to obtain property or services from him or her unjustly. Fraud can be accomplished through the aid of forged objects. In the criminal law of common law jurisdictions it may be called "theft by deception," "larceny by trick," "larceny by fraud and deception" or something similar. Fraud can be committed through many methods, including mail, wire, phone, and the internet.Bank fraud is a federal crime in many countries, defined as planning to obtain property or money from any federally insured financial institution. It is sometimes considered a white-collar crime. Fraud by insiders

Rogue traders:

A rogue trader is a highly placed insider nominally authorised to invest sizeable funds on behalf of the bank; this trader secretly makes progressively more aggressive and risky investments using the bank's money as, when one investment goes bad, the rogue trader engages in further market speculation in the hope of a quick profit which would hide or cover the loss.Unfortunately, when one investment loss is piled onto another, the costs to the bank can reach into the hundreds of millions of dollars; there have even been cases in which a bank goes out of business due to market investment losses. Some of the largest bank frauds ever detected were perpetrated by currency traders John Rusnak and Nick Leeson.

Fraudulent loans:'

One way to remove money from a bank is to take out a loan, a practice bankers would be more than willing to encourage if they know that the money will be repaid in full with interest. A fraudulent loan, however, is one in which the borrower is a business entity controlled by a dishonest bank officer or an accomplice; the "borrower" then declares bankruptcy or vanishes and the money is gone. The borrower may even be a non-existent entity and the loan merely an artifice to conceal a theft of a large sum of money from the bank.

Wire fraud

Wire transfer networks such as the international S.W.I.F.T interbank fund transfer system are tempting as targets as a transfer, once made, is difficult or impossible to reverse. As these networks are used by banks to settle accounts with each other, rapid or overnight wire transfer of large amounts of money are commonplace; while banks have put checks and balances in place, there is the risk that insiders may attempt to use fraudulent or forged documents which claim to request a bank depositor's money be wired to another bank, often an offshore account in some distant foreign country.

Forged or fraudulent documents:

Forged documents are often used to conceal other thefts; banks tend to count their money meticulously so every penny must be accounted for. A document claiming that a sum of money has been borrowed as a loan, withdrawn by an individual depositor or transferred or invested can therefore be valuable to a thief who wishes to conceal the minor detail that the bank's money has in fact been stolen and is now gone.

Uninsured deposits:

There are a number of cases each year where the bank itself turns out to be uninsured or not licensed to operate at all. The objective is usually to solicit for deposits to this uninsured "bank", although some may also sell stock representing ownership of the "bank". Sometimes the names appear very official or very similar to those of legitimate banks. For instance, the "Chase Trust Bank" of Washington DC appeared in 2002 with no licence and no affiliation to its seemingly apparent namesake; the real Chase Manhattan Bank is based in New York.

There is a very high risk of fraud when dealing with unknown or uninsured institutions. The risk is greatest when dealing with offshore or Internet banks (as this allows selection of countries with lax banking regulations), but not by any means limited to these institutions. There is an annual list of unlicensed banks on the US Treasury Department site which is currently is fifteen pages in length.

Theft of identity:

Dishonest bank personnel have been known to disclose depositors' personal information for use in theft of identity frauds. The perpetrators then use the information to obtain identity cards and credit cards using the victim's name and personal information. Fraud by others

Forgery and altered cheques:

Thieves have altered cheques to change the name in order to deposit cheques intended for payment to someone else or the amount on the face of a cheque, a few strokes of a pen can change $100.00 into $100,000.00.Instead of tampering with a real cheque, some fraudsters will attempt to forge a depositor's signature on a blank cheque or even print their own cheques drawn on accounts owned by others, non-existent accounts or even alleged accounts owned by non-existent depositors. The cheque will then be deposited to another bank and the money withdrawn before the cheque can be returned as invalid or for non-sufficient funds.

Stolen cheques:

Some fraudsters obtain access to facilities handling large amounts of cheques, such as a mailroom or post office or the offices of a tax authority (receiving many cheques) or a corporate payroll or a social or veterans' benefit office (issuing many cheques). A few cheques go missing; accounts are then opened under assumed names and the cheques (often tampered or altered in some way) deposited so that the money can then be withdrawn by thieves. Stolen blank chequebooks are also of value to forgers who then sign as if they were the depositor.

Accounting fraud:

In order to hide serious financial problems, some businesses have been known to use fraudulent bookkeeping to overstate sales and income, inflate the worth of the company's assets or state a profit when the company is operating at a loss. These tampered records are then used to seek investment in the company's bond or security issues or to make fraudulent loan applications in a final attempt to obtain more money to delay the inevitable collapse of an unprofitable or mismanaged firm. Accounting fraud has also been used to conceal other theft taking place within a company.

Cheque kiting:

Cheque kiting exploits a system in which, when a cheque is deposited to a bank account, the money is made available immediately even though it is not removed from the account on which the cheque is drawn until the cheque actually clears.

Deposit ¤1000 in one bank, write a cheque on that amount and deposit it to your account in another bank; you now have ¤2000 until the cheque clears. In-transit or non-existent cash is briefly recorded in multiple accounts. A cheque is cashed and, before the bank receives any money by clearing the cheque, the money is deposited into some other account or withdrawn by writing more cheques. In many cases, the original deposited cheque turns out to be a forged cheque.Some perpetrators have swapped checks between various banks on a daily basis, using each to cover the shortfall for a previous cheque. What they were actually doing was check kiting; like a kite in the wind, it flies briefly but eventually has to come back down to the ground.

Payment card fraud:

Credit card fraud is widespread as a means of stealing from banks, merchants and clients.

Booster cheques:

A booster cheque is a fraudulent or bad cheque used to make a payment to a credit card account in order to "bust out" or raise the amount of available credit on otherwise-legitimate credit cards. The amount of the cheque is credited to the card account by the bank as soon as the payment is made, even though the cheque has not yet cleared. Before the bad cheque is discovered, the perpetrator goes on a spending spree or obtains cash advances until the newly-"raised" available limit on the card is reached. The original cheque then bounces, but by then it is already too late.

Stolen payment cards:

Often, the first indication that a victim's wallet has been stolen is a 'phone call from a credit card issuer asking if the person has gone on a spending spree; the simplest form of this theft involves stealing the card itself and charging a number of high-ticket items to it in the first few minutes or hours before it is reported as stolen. A variant of this is to copy just the credit card numbers (instead of drawing attention by stealing the card itself) in order to use the numbers in online frauds.

Duplication or skimming of card information:

This takes a number of forms, ranging from a dishonest merchant copying clients' credit card numbers for later misuse (or a thief using carbon copies from old mechanical card imprint machines to steal the info) to the use of tampered credit or debit card readers to copy the magnetic stripe from a payment card while a hidden camera captures the numbers on the face of the call. Some thieves have surreptitiously added equipment to publicly accessible automatic teller machines; a fraudulent card stripe reader would capture the contents of the magnetic stripe while a hidden camera would sneak a peek at the user's PIN. The fraudulent equipment would then be removed and the data used to produce duplicate cards that could then be used to make ATM withdrawals from the victims' accounts.

Impersonation and theft of identity:

Theft of identity has become an increasing problem; the scam operates by obtaining information about a victim, then using the information to apply for identity cards, accounts and credit in that person's name. Often little more than name, parents' name, date and place of birth are sufficient to obtain a birth certificate; each document obtained then is used as identification in order to obtain more identity documents. Government-issued standard identification numbers such as "social security numbers" are also valuable to the identity thief.In some cases, a name/SIN pair is needed to impersonate a citizen while working as an illegal immigrant but often the identity thieves are using the bogus identity documents in the commission of other crimes or even to hide from prosecution for past crimes. The use of a stolen identity for other frauds such as gaining access to bank accounts, credit cards, loans and fraudulent social benefit or tax refund claims is not uncommon.Unfortunately for the banks, identity thieves have been known to take out loans and disappear with the cash, quite content to see the wrong persons blamed when the debts go bad or the police come calling.

Fraudulent loan applications:

These take a number of forms varying from individuals using false information to hide a credit history filled with financial problems and unpaid loans to corporations using accounting fraud to overstate profits in order to make a risky loan appear to be a sound investment for the bank.Some corporations have engaged in over-expansion, using borrowed money to finance costly mergers and acquisitions and overstating assets, sales or income to appear solvent even after becoming seriously financially overextended. The resulting debt load has ruined entire large companies, such as Italian dairy conglomerate Parmalat, leaving banks exposed to massive losses from bad loans.

Phishing and Internet fraud:

Phishing operates by sending forged e-mail, impersonating an online bank, auction or payment site; the e-mail directs the user to a forged web site which is designed to look like the login to the legitimate site but which claims that the user must update personal info. The information thus stolen is then used in other frauds, such as theft of identity or online auction fraud.

Money laundering:

The term "money laundering" dates back to the days of Al Capone; Money laundering has since been used to describe any scheme by which the true origin of funds is hidden or concealed. The operations work in various forms. One variant involved buying securities (stocks and bonds) for cash; the securities were then placed for safe deposit in one bank and a claim on those assets used as collateral for a loan at another bank. The borrower would then default on the loan. The transaction accomplished nothing except to disguise the original source of the funds