Online Bank Fraud Case with Overseas Taiwan Victim Presents Issue for Supreme Court

December 13, 2016

In his latest piece for, published December 13, 2016, Ron Cheng details the Supreme Court’s ruling in Shaw v. United States, which addressed an online fraud scheme to steal bank funds in a customer account. Unfortunately, these crimes are not all that uncommon. The defense claim on appeal, however, was somewhat novel: the federal bank fraud statute does not criminalize efforts to defraud only a bank depositor, as opposed to the bank itself. The Court rejected this interpretation.

In other recent cases, the Court had reined in efforts by prosecutors to extend the reach of federal criminal statutes, and some commentators had expected a similar outcome here. Instead, the opinion suggests bank fraud statute can extend somewhat broadly, including perhaps to acts against third parties. Given the relative ease with which one person was able to commit this scheme online in this case, as well as the multiplication of fraud and identity theft schemes, Shaw may lead to a wider scope of bank fraud prosecutions.