Check fraud is a type of crime where someone wrongfully uses checks to illegally borrow funds that: 1) do not exist in a bank account, or 2) are not in the legal ownership of the account holder. How does check fraud happen?
There are lots of ways that checks can fall into the wrong hands, or ways people can commit check fraud. If checks are lost or stolen, the forger has all kinds of opportunities to misuse them. Or, if the forger produces fraudulent checks with a machine, they can be used to write “rubber checks” to obtain goods and services.
To learn more about check fraud, click here.
More ways it happens:
- Checks are stolen form people’s mailboxes without their knowledge.
- Checks are stolen from purses or other personal belongings.
- Someone in a position of trust steals another’s checks or checking account information (account and routing numbers).
- Criminals produce counterfeit checks with the victim’s name, address and checking account information (obtained from the victim’s account statement or cancelled checks).
Check Fraud Under Texas Law
Check fraud is covered under Title 7, Chapter 32 of the Texas Penal Code – the state’s fraud statute. Under Sec. 32.21(2)(D), check fraud is classified as forgery, which is a state jail felony if the forged instrument purports to be a check.
However, if the defendant used a forged check to obtain or attempt to obtain goods or services, it can be charged as a Class C misdemeanor to a felony of the first degree depending on the value of the goods or services the defendant sought to illegally obtain.
Here are some examples:
- Check fraud is a Class A misdemeanor if the value of the goods or services is $100 or more but less than $750.
- Check fraud is a state jail felony if the value of goods or services is $2,500 or more but less than $30,000.
- Check fraud is a felony of the first degree if the value of goods or services is more than $300,000.
Related: Penalties for Theft in Texas