A man who stole funds from a victim’s bank account got more than he bargained for in court. He is not only on the hook for stealing money from the individual, but is also in a heap of trouble for defrauding the bank.
The case involves a man who used bank statements stolen from a victim’s mailbox to open email and PayPal accounts in order to transfer money out of the victim’s bank account.
While the victim suffered $170,000 loss by the time the scheme was discovered, the bank was unscathed as it was indemnified by Paypal for any funds it was required to refund to the victim.
As such, the defendant believed and argued that since his intended victim was not the bank in the first place and that they were unharmed in the affair, he should not be found guilty of crimes against the financial institution.
However, the Ninth Circuit Court held, and the Supreme Court unanimously affirmed, that a defendant is liable regardless of whether a financial institution suffers financial harm or is the intended target.
In the courts eyes, a scheme to fraudulently obtain funds held by a bank depositor’s account is also a scheme to obtain property from a financial institution. As a consequence, the penalties are far more serious.
Many believe the ruling will make it easier for the government to pursue cyber criminals and computer hackers who use stolen identity information, such as account numbers, usernames, and passwords, to steal from businesses and individuals across the country.
Up to now, such crimes have typically been prosecuted under the mail and wire fraud statutes, the National Stolen Property Act or the access device fraud statute. Bringing prosecutions under the bank fraud statute translates into substantially higher maximum prison terms, higher fines and an increased statutes of limitation.
Contact the Law Offices of Andrew C. Ladd LLC for help if you have been arrested, are charged, or are under investigation for theft crimes including identity theft; white collar crime such as employee theft, embezzlement, bad checks and forgery; shoplifting, robbery or possession of stolen goods; and related cyber crimes. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Andrew C Ladd LLC will provide you with strategies and aggressive criminal defense against a range of theft crimes. Call us today for a free consultation of your case at 262-542-3900.
Source: The National Law Review, “The Supreme Court’s Broad Interpretation of the Bank Fraud Statute May Provide a Potent Tool in Combatting Cybercrime”, by Joseph Facciponti, December 19, 2016.