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CRM 500-999

943. No Loss or Gullible Victims

"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 JM 9-43.100]