Defining Fraudulent Checks And Their Legal Penalties

January 9, 2023

Fraudulent checks are fraudulent bank checks that are drawn on funds from a checking or savings account that the depositor did not authorize.

Fraudulent checks can be drawn on a checking or savings account but are most often drawn on a credit card account in order to cash the funds for unauthorized purposes. They can be written on a blank check or on a check that has been stolen from the depositor.

Depending upon the type of fraudulent check, there may be a federal sentencing guideline range of 10-40 years imprisonment. There may also be additional felony penalties for using the proceeds obtained in violation of federal law to pay debts incurred by defrauding that same financial institution. Larceny charges can also be brought against perpetrators who steal checks and cash them without authorization.

In What Ways Can Checks Be Fraudulent?

Checks can be fraudulent in a number of different ways. They can be forged by a person who is not the owner of the account from which the check was written. They can be altered or tampered with in bad faith after being signed by the account owner. Some checks are fraudulently obtained by persons who use a false name and address when they open an account to prevent their checks from being returned to them if they bounce. They can be stolen from the account holder by an employee of the financial institution from which they were drawn. They could be fraudulent if they were written with a stolen debit card or credit card. Finally, they can be made out to someone other than the person who wrote them and then used by that third party under a “borrower’s privilege,” which is often implicit in most states’ laws.

What Are Legal Penalties Associated with Fraudulent Checks?

If a check is drawn on an account with insufficient funds, it may be returned to the bank by the bank or by an agency that receives deposits of uncashed checks (collectively referred to as “receivers”). If the drawer of a fraudulent check owes money to that same institution, or if he had previously written checks payable on insufficient funds or in amounts greater than his current account balance, then this is within the scope of criminal fraud laws. Forgery and other forms of altering checks, as well as misuse and theft of the account for which the check was written, are also criminal offenses since they involve dishonesty and fraud. If a check is written with a stolen debit card or credit card, then it will be treated as a check fraud crime under both state law and federal law.

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Defenses Against Fraudulent Check Charges

There are a number of possible defenses to a fraudulent check charge. A person who writes a fraudulent check may have the defense that the funds given to him were not authorized by the account owner. If a check is altered or forged, then he may argue that it was not his work and he did not give his consent. If the person wrote a check from an account that had sufficient funds in it, then this could be argued as well. A lawyer for the defendant will want to review all of these defenses and any others which might apply in order to construct the best possible defense available for his client’s situation.

Protecting Against Fraudulent Checks

It is important to protect against fraud that could arise from checks in order to reduce the chance of becoming a victim of check fraud. This can be done by regularly reviewing bank statements and looking for irregularities and other forms of fraud. It can also be done by not sharing account information with anyone. At the same time, banks and credit card companies should provide more protection against fraudulent checks. For example, they could use more state-of-the-art technology, such as digitally scanned signatures, to reduce fraud. Banks should also protect checkbooks and debit cards better so that nobody but the account holder can access them. Most importantly, people should not be afraid to report check fraud if they become aware of it. It is an important part of keeping one’s checking account safe from theft or misuse.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Fraudulent Check Issues?

This is a very important issue for any person who is charged with or accused of writing or using a fraudulent check. Before being charged with fraud, people should be careful to make sure that they did not violate any state laws, even if the criminal offense is written into federal law. In many cases involving check fraud, there are additional charges and penalties which may be brought by state prosecutors. In addition to defending these charges, a lawyer can help an individual get most of the restitution for the losses he suffers during and after his arrest.


In conclusion, the money that a bank allows a depositor to withdraw is theirs to keep for their own use. If they do not want to give it back, then they can impose a penalty that goes beyond the actual monetary loss. Fraudulent checks are fraudulent bank checks that are drawn on funds from a checking or savings account that the depositor did not authorize. Fraudulent checks can be written on a blank check or on a check that was stolen from the depositor.

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