Is it legal to borrow a bunch of money from banks and leave

Is it legal to borrow a bunch of money from banks and leave the country with no intention of ever paying it back? Just hypothetically mind you! I recon I could borrow quite a bit if I went round to a number of banks. Then I could move to France with my borrowed loot, or put it in a Swiss bank, and live a comfortable existence without labour and other nasty demands.

Banks just don’t hand out loans without collateral. You would need to own something expensive, like a house for example, in order to acquire a sizable loan. At least that’s my experience.

Not Legal Advice


It’s obtaining pecuniary advantage by deception.

You get the money by deceiving the bank into believing you have an intention to pay it back.

Well, it isn’t legal but a lot of people do it – in the form of student loans. There was a recent story of people who have massive student loans who are simply moving to other countries to avoid repaying those loans.

Really - did you think that this could possibly be legal?


It’s fraud if you have no intention of paying it back to begin with.

OTOH, if you **do **intend to pay back as soon as your new buisness venture in France makes money… and someone (possibly hiding behind an offshore company) cheats you out of your money… it’s perfectly legal.

Yep. Getting a mortgage? They’ll foreclose on your house if you don’t pay the mortgage back.

Getting a car loan? They’ll repo your car if you don’t pay the loan back.

Soliciting investors for a business opportunity? Slightly different case; see venture capital for some background. No collateral involved here, but as the entrepreneur, you are under legal obligation to make a good-faith effort at turning a profit for the investors. Note that you are not required to actually turn a profit - expensive business ventures fail all the time, and no one goes to jail - but you have to try.

This was a key issue in the case brought against Preston Tucker by the SEC:

So the business venture was a failure, but it was an honest failure, so no jail time for anyone.

OTOH if you take investors’ money and simply flee the country, you may find yourself extradited back to the US to face felony fraud charges.

It’s also fraud if your intention was to make no payments until that French business started becoming profitable. You’d have to keep up with the payments meanwhile.

Really, what makes the OP think that it might possibly legal to borrow money and not pay it back? (My guess is that he did not really intend to ask if it is legal, but he was rather asking about the odds of getting caught.)

Sure they do. That’s what credit cards are all about.

Please don’t edit my quote to make me look like an idiot.

I get loan offers all the time. As pop-up adds on the Internet and direct mail, and etc.

I ask the questions punk! Anyway, it’s not clear what laws should be broken. It’s quite common that Danish people wanted by the police for alleged financial irregularities move to London. Which is quite legal. According to English law.

Any of them big enough to “live a comfortable existence without labour and other nasty demands”?

It’s pretty clear to me. None of them. (At least, unless there’s some kind of life-or-death emergency reason to break them.)

Is it legal according to Danish law?

Eaxctly - all that fine print they make you sign is what the lawyers call “a contract”. Deliberately intending to not honour a contract where you receive money is fraud.

Of course, the trick is that the prosecutor has to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, the intent to commit this fraud. Buying the tickets to France ahead of time, quitting your job the next for no other reason than you got a load of loans, etc. - all are clues to intent.

The banks lend you money based on assessed risk. I don’t know how likely it is that an otherwise stable and well-employed individual will drop everything and head for Paris, palette and beret in hand. Generally, someone scheming to pull this scam probably is already flagged by the banks as a pretty high risk.

And the banks check your credit record and IIRC the activity itself is logged; so the trick is to arrange multiple loans without any of the transactions being flagged by the other banks. That was probably easier 20 years ago when the speed of information was much less than teh speed of light. In fact I did hear about some guy in a small town 30 years ago who managed to float the unsecured loan for a (risky) business by hitting up all 5 banks simultaneously for a less risky amount. The bank managers in the small town eventually talked to each other, too late. (IIRC about 5x$10,000 back when that was real money.) However, it was a real business venture, he did not skip town, he intended to pay them back - not sure if he eventually did.

The next question is of course whether fraud is an extraditable offense in France. Plus whether being wanted in the USA for fraud will be grounds for denying/withdrawing your landed immigrant status in France.

I’m related to bankers, and I just read this.

You just couldn’t keep it to yourself, could you?

Watch for Runie’s follow-up thread:

"Is it legal to borrow a bunch of money from banks and then fake your own fiery death in a bumper-car-off-a-freeway-overpass accident by exchanging your dental hardware with a med school corpse, and then hijack a container ship and live the end of your days in a remote Swiss village posting to a marginal message board, and skiing to the next remote Swiss village for some awesome hot chocolate mit der schnapps?"

Is it legal? No. You fall at the first hurdle; as others have pointed out, if you borrow money “with no intention of ever paying it back” you are guilty of fraud.

Would it work? Not necessarily. You would, of course, still owe the money to the banks. There is nothing to stop them getting a judgment against you in the country where you borrowed the money, and then taking that to France (or wherever) and commencing proceedings locally to enforce it against you or your assets. If you borrow enough money from them, it makes sense for them to do this.

The main obstacle would probably be difficulty in tracing you or your assets. But of course they would have the same problem if you simply “disappeared” without leaving the country.

The key to the success of your enterprise, therefore, is not moving abroad, but disappearing. Moving abroad may be one way of doing this, but it doesn’t in itself guarantee disappearance. You may have to do things like change your name, used forged travel documents, abandon any property or assets already registered in your real name, forgo your professional qualifications and registrations, etc. It might actually be easier to disappear in your home country, where you can move from place to place without any of this tiresomely traceable passport-and-ticket business, and where you can blend in to a new neighbourhood much more discreetly.

My understanding is if you’ve forfeited student loans, they can cancel your passport.

Of course, you could obtain citizenship in a country like Montenegro, where the Thai prime minister who was overthrown in our 2006 military coup is currently hiding. A recent news story here indicated just about anyone can obtain Montenegrin citizenship for “investing” in the country, the minimum investment being about the equivalent of US$16,000. And the Montenegrin constitution apparently forbids extradition of its citizens to any country for any reason. The ousted PM chose his country well.

An aspect that hasn’t been belaboured enough here is that countries like France and Switzerland have reliable and effective legal systems and are not some sort of lawless paradise where debts can be escaped from with impunity. And if you go somewhere that is lawless enough to make recovering the debts difficult it is likely to be somewhere unpleasant or inconvenient.