The U.S. Justice Department is examining the role financial institutions play in fraud schemes perpetrated by bank customers offering deceptive products, a department official said on Wednesday.
Attorneys and investigators in the DOJ’s Civil Division are examining banks’ possible role in assisting scammers who offer questionable payday loans, false offers of debt relief, fraudulent health care discount cards, and phony government grants, according to Michael Bresnick, who heads the department’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.
That task force has been focused on pursuing misconduct that fueled the financial crisis, but the new priorities suggest investigators are looking beyond those cases and at other types of financial misconduct that extends to different industries, from payday lending to auto loans.
The Bank Secrecy Act does require U.S. banks to report suspicious activity by customers that may indicate illegal acts like drug trafficking or terrorist financing. But Bresnick’s comments suggest the department is now planning to more closely examine banks’ roles in types of misconduct they have not often been held liable for in the past.