What can happen to meifI opened a bank account in someone else’s name?

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What can happen to meifI opened a bank account in someone else’s name?

I opened a checking acct in my 21 year-old son’s name who lives in FL; I live in TN. I deposited $8700 into the account. He called me 10 days later and needed $600 to pay some traffic fines. I told him that I opened an account in his name in case I needed to help him and that I also would use it. He called me and asked for the account number so that he could cash some paychecks. I gave it to him. I also paid the traffic tickets for him. 3 days go by and I receive a message stating that I opened an account in his name illegally and that he was going to close the account and send my money to me. He put a stop payment on my mortgage payment and said that I could face 7 years in jail. What can I do?

Asked on September 7, 2010 under Criminal Law, Tennessee

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Really you can not open accounts in other people's names or with their social security numbers unless they are joint accounts or UGMA (Uniform Gift to Minor) accounts.  It falls under a form of identity theft or fraud if you are trying to avoid creditors, etc.  How, may I ask, are you signing the checks?  In his name?  That is absolutely not legal and yes, you can get in to a lot of trouble.  Is he planning on turning you in?  I would hope that you established the account for altruistic reasons and that you just did not realize what problems could result.  I am a bit surprised that the bank allowed you to open the account in the first place.  Close the account yourself and re-open one that has both your names on it so that there is no question that everything is above board, so to speak.  Good luck.   


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