"It is the scheme to defraud and not actual fraud that is required." United States v. Reid, 533 F.2d 1255, 1264 (D.C. Cir. 1976). "No particular type of victim is required . . . nor need the scheme have succeeded." United States v. Coachman, 727 F.2d 1293, 1302-03 n. 43 (D.C. Cir. 1984). No actual loss to the victims is required. See United States v. Pollack, 534 F.2d 964, 971 (D.C. Cir.) ("The fraud statutes speak alternatively of devising or intending to devise a scheme to defraud and do not require that the deception bear fruit for the wrongdoer or cause injury to the intended victim as a prerequisite to successful prosecution. [S]uccess of the scheme and loss by a defrauded person are not essential elements of the crime under 18 U.S.C. §§ 1341, 1343 . . . ."), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 924 (1976); see also United States v. Jordan, 626 F.2d 928, 931 (D.C. Cir. 1980) ("The amount of money realized as a result of the scheme is not an essential element of mail fraud. It was not even necessary to prove that the scheme succeeded.").
For a discussion of fraud loss computation in sentencing see Guidelines Sentencing (Federal Judicial Center, 1997), Section II.D.2. Offense Involving Fraud and Deceit.
"[I]t makes no difference whether the persons the scheme is intended to defraud are gullible or skeptical, dull or bright . . . . " United States v. Maxwell, 920 F.2d 1028, 1036 (D.C. Cir. 1990) (quoting United States v. Brien, 617 F.2d 299, 311 (1st Cir.), cert. denied, 446 U.S. 919 (1980)). "[T]he monumental credulity of the victim is no shield for the accused . . ." Id. (quoting Deaver v. United States, 155 F.2d 740, 744-45 (D.C. Cir.), cert. denied, 329 U.S. 766 (1946)); cf. Pollack, 534 F.2d at 971 (To hold that actual loss to victim is required "would lead to the illogical result that the legality of a defendant's conduct would depend on his fortuitous choice of a gullible victim.") (quoted in Maxwell, 920 F.2d at 1036).
[cited in USAM 9-43.100]