United States v. Shaw

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 03-27-2015
  • Case #: 13-50136
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Schroeder for the Court; Circuit Judges Pregerson and Nguyen
  • Full Text Opinion

In bank fraud, the government does not need to prove that a financial institution was the intended victim of the fraud.

Lawrence Shaw was convicted of defrauding a financial institution. In 2007, Shaw created an elaborate scheme to convince various financial institutions, including Bank of America and PayPal, that he was a Taiwanese businessman named Stanley Hsu. At the time, Shaw was living with Mr. Hsu’s daughter, having access to some of Mr. Hsu’s financial information. This allowed him to successfully defraud Mr. Hsu in the amount of $307,000. When Mr. Hsu’s son found out about the missing money, he reported the theft and was partially reimbursed by the Bank of America and PayPal. Shaw was charged and convicted with seventeen separate counts of bank fraud. Shaw claimed that a bank fraud conviction requires intent to defraud the bank itself and to expose it to monetary loss. Shaw explained that in his case, he only intended to expose Mr. Hsu and PayPal to loss, and therefore he did not have the requisite intent to defraud the bank. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit rejected the Shaw's argument, refusing to interpret the statute to mean that a defendant must have intended a bank be the principal victim of his fraudulent activity. The panel explained that almost any similar financial scam directed at third parties could result in a bank suffering damages, and, therefore requiring intent for risk of loss would make bank fraud cases more difficult to prosecute. AFFIRMED.

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