2F1.1. Fraud and Deceit; Forgery; Offenses Involving Altered or Counterfeit Instruments Other than Counterfeit Bearer Obligations of the United States
(a) Base Offense Level: 6
(b) Specific Offense Characteristics
(1) If the loss exceeded $2,000, increase the offense level as follows:
Loss (Apply the Greatest) Increase in Level
(A) $2,000 or less no increase
(B) More than $2,000 add 1
(C) More than $5,000 add 2
(D) More than $10,000 add 3
(E) More than $20,000 add 4
(F) More than $40,000 add 5
(G) More than $70,000 add 6
(H) More than $120,000 add 7
(I) More than $200,000 add 8
(J) More than $350,000 add 9
(K) More than $500,000 add 10
(L) More than $800,000 add 11
(M) More than $1,500,000 add 12
(N) More than $2,500,000 add 13
(O) More than $5,000,000 add 14
(P) More than $10,000,000 add 15
(Q) More than $20,000,000 add 16
(R) More than $40,000,000 add 17
(S) More than $80,000,000 add 18.
(2) If the offense involved (A) more than minimal planning, or (B) a scheme to defraud more than one victim, increase by 2 levels.
(3) If the offense involved (A) a misrepresentation that the defendant was acting on behalf of a charitable, educational, religious or political organization, or a government agency, or (B) violation of any judicial or administrative order, injunction, decree, or process not addressed elsewhere in the guidelines, increase by 2 levels. If the resulting offense level is less than level 10, increase to level 10.
(4) If the offense involved the conscious or reckless risk of serious bodily injury, increase by 2 levels. If the resulting offense level is less than level 13, increase to level 13.
(5) If the offense involved the use of foreign bank accounts or transactions to conceal the true nature or extent of the fraudulent conduct, and the offense level as determined above is less than level 12, increase to level 12.
(6) If the offense --
(A) substantially jeopardized the safety and soundness of a financial institution; or
(B) affected a financial institution and the defendant derived more than $1,000,000 in gross receipts from the offense,
increase by 4 levels. If the resulting offense level is less than level 24, increase to level 24.
Statutory Provisions: 7 U.S.C. 6, 6b, 6c, 6h, 6o, 13, 23; 15 U.S.C. 50, 77e, 77q, 77x, 78d, 78j, 78ff, 80b-6, 1644; 18 U.S.C. 225, 285-289, 471-473, 500, 510, 659, 1001-1008, 1010-1014, 1016-1022, 1025, 1026, 1028, 1029, 1031, 1341-1344, 2314, 2315. For additional statutory provision(s), see Appendix A (Statutory Index).
1. The adjustments in 2F1.1(b)(3) are alternative rather than cumulative. If in a particular case, however, both of the enumerated factors applied, an upward departure might be warranted.
2. "More than minimal planning" (subsection (b)(2)(A)) is defined in the Commentary to 1B1.1 (Application Instructions).
3. "Scheme to defraud more than one victim," as used in subsection (b)(2)(B), refers to a design or plan to obtain something of value from more than one person. In this context, "victim" refers to the person or entity from which the funds are to come directly. Thus, a wire fraud in which a single telephone call was made to three distinct individuals to get each of them to invest in a pyramid scheme would involve a scheme to defraud more than one victim, but passing a fraudulently endorsed check would not, even though the maker, payee and/or payor all might be considered victims for other purposes, such as restitution.
4. Subsection (b)(3)(A) provides an adjustment for a misrepresentation that the defendant was acting on behalf of a charitable, educational, religious or political organization, or a government agency. Examples of conduct to which this factor applies would include a group of defendants who solicit contributions to a non-existent famine relief organization by mail, a defendant who diverts donations for a religiously affiliated school by telephone solicitations to church members in which the defendant falsely claims to be a fund-raiser for the school, or a defendant who poses as a federal collection agent in order to collect a delinquent student loan.
5. Subsection (b)(3)(B) provides an adjustment for violation of any judicial or administrative order, injunction, decree, or process. If it is established that an entity the defendant controlled was a party to the prior proceeding, and the defendant had knowledge of the prior decree or order, this provision applies even if the defendant was not a specifically named party in that prior case. For example, a defendant whose business was previously enjoined from selling a dangerous product, but who nonetheless engaged in fraudulent conduct to sell the product, would be subject to this provision. This subsection does not apply to conduct addressed elsewhere in the guidelines; e.g., a violation of a condition of release (addressed in 2J1.7 (Offense Committed While on Release)) or a violation of probation (addressed in 4A1.1 (Criminal History Category)).
6. Some fraudulent schemes may result in multiple-count indictments, depending on the technical elements of the offense. The cumulative loss produced by a common scheme or course of conduct should be used in determining the offense level, regardless of the number of counts of conviction. See Chapter Three, Part D (Multiple Counts).
7. Valuation of loss is discussed in the Commentary to 2B1.1 (Larceny, Embezzlement, and Other Forms of Theft). As in theft cases, loss is the value of the money, property, or services unlawfully taken; it does not, for example, include interest the victim could have earned on such funds had the offense not occurred. Consistent with the provisions of 2X1.1 (Attempt, Solicitation or Conspiracy), if an intended loss that the defendant was attempting to inflict can be determined, this figure will be used if it is greater than the actual loss. Frequently, loss in a fraud case will be the same as in a theft case. For example, if the fraud consisted of selling or attempting to sell $40,000 in worthless securities, or representing that a forged check for $40,000 was genuine, the loss would be $40,000.
There are, however, instances where additional factors are to be considered in determining the loss or intended loss:
(a) Fraud Involving Misrepresentation of the Value of an Item or Product Substitution
A fraud may involve the misrepresentation of the value of an item that does have some value (in contrast to an item that is worthless). Where, for example, a defendant fraudulently represents that stock is worth $40,000 and the stock is worth only $10,000, the loss is the amount by which the stock was overvalued (i.e., $30,000). In a case involving a misrepresentation concerning the quality of a consumer product, the loss is the difference between the amount paid by the victim for the product and the amount for which the victim could resell the product received.
(b) Fraudulent Loan Application and Contract Procurement Cases
In fraudulent loan application cases and contract procurement cases, the loss is the actual loss to the victim (or if the loss has not yet come about, the expected loss). For example, if a defendant fraudulently obtains a loan by misrepresenting the value of his assets, the loss is the amount of the loan not repaid at the time the offense is discovered, reduced by the amount the lending institution has recovered (or can expect to recover) from any assets pledged to secure the loan. However, where the intended loss is greater than the actual loss, the intended loss is to be used.
In some cases, the loss determined above may significantly understate or overstate the seriousness of the defendant's conduct. For example, where the defendant substantially understated his debts to obtain a loan, which he nevertheless repaid, the loss determined above (zero loss) will tend not to reflect adequately the risk of loss created by the defendant's conduct. Conversely, a defendant may understate his debts to a limited degree to obtain a loan (e.g., to expand a grain export business), which he genuinely expected to repay and for which he would have qualified at a higher interest rate had he made truthful disclosure, but he is unable to repay the loan because of some unforeseen event (e.g., an embargo imposed on grain exports) which would have caused a default in any event. In such a case, the loss determined above may overstate the seriousness of the defendant's conduct. Where the loss determined above significantly understates or overstates the seriousness of the defendant's conduct, an upward or downward departure may be warranted.
(c) Consequential Damages in Procurement Fraud and Product Substitution Cases
In contrast to other types of cases, loss in a procurement fraud or product substitution case includes not only direct damages, but also consequential damages that were reasonably foreseeable. For example, in a case involving a defense product substitution offense, the loss includes the government's reasonably foreseeable costs of making substitute transactions and handling or disposing of the product delivered or retrofitting the product so that it can be used for its intended purpose, plus the government's reasonably foreseeable cost of rectifying the actual or potential disruption to government operations caused by the product substitution. Similarly, in the case of fraud affecting a defense contract award, loss includes the reasonably foreseeable administrative cost to the government and other participants of repeating or correcting the procurement action affected, plus any increased cost to procure the product or service involved that was reasonably foreseeable. Inclusion of reasonably foreseeable consequential damages directly in the calculation of loss in procurement fraud and product substitution cases reflects that such damages frequently are substantial in such cases.
(d) Diversion of Government Program Benefits
In a case involving diversion of government program benefits, loss is the value of the benefits diverted from intended recipients or uses.
(e) Davis-Bacon Act Cases
In a case involving a Davis-Bacon Act violation (a violation of 40 U.S.C. 276a, criminally prosecuted under 18 U.S.C. 1001), the loss is the difference between the legally required and actual wages paid.
8. For the purposes of subsection (b)(1), the loss need not be determined with precision. The court need only make a reasonable estimate of the loss, given the available information. This estimate, for example, may be based on the approximate number of victims and an estimate of the average loss to each victim, or on more general factors, such as the nature and duration of the fraud and the revenues generated by similar operations. The offender's gain from committing the fraud is an alternative estimate that ordinarily will underestimate the loss.
9. In the case of a partially completed offense (e.g., an offense involving a completed fraud that is part of a larger, attempted fraud), the offense level is to be determined in accordance with the provisions of 2X1.1 (Attempt, Solicitation, or Conspiracy) whether the conviction is for the substantive offense, the inchoate offense (attempt, solicitation, or conspiracy), or both; see Application Note 4 in the Commentary to 2X1.1.
10. In cases in which the loss determined under subsection (b)(1) does not fully capture the harmfulness and seriousness of the conduct, an upward departure may be warranted. Examples may include the following:
(a) a primary objective of the fraud was non-monetary; or the fraud caused or risked reasonably foreseeable, substantial non-monetary harm;
(b) false statements were made for the purpose of facilitating some other crime;
(c) the offense caused reasonably foreseeable, physical or psychological harm or severe emotional trauma;
(d) the offense endangered national security or military readiness;
(e) the offense caused a loss of confidence in an important institution;
(f) the offense involved the knowing endangerment of the solvency of one or more victims.
In a few instances, the loss determined under subsection (b)(1) may overstate the seriousness of the offense. This may occur, for example, where a defendant attempted to negotiate an instrument that was so obviously fraudulent that no one would seriously consider honoring it. In such cases, a downward departure may be warranted.
11. Offenses involving fraudulent identification documents and access devices, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1028 and 1029, are also covered by this guideline. Where the primary purpose of the offense involved the unlawful production, transfer, possession, or use of identification documents for the purpose of violating, or assisting another to violate, the laws relating to naturalization, citizenship, or legal resident status, apply 2L2.1 or 2L2.2, as appropriate, rather than 2F1.1. In the case of an offense involving false identification documents or access devices, an upward departure may be warranted where the actual loss does not adequately reflect the seriousness of the conduct.
12. If the fraud exploited vulnerable victims, an enhancement will apply. See 3A1.1 (Vulnerable Victim).
13. Sometimes, offenses involving fraudulent statements are prosecuted under 18 U.S.C. 1001, or a similarly general statute, although the offense is also covered by a more specific statute. Examples include false entries regarding currency transactions, for which 2S1.3 would be more apt, and false statements to a customs officer, for which 2T3.1 likely would be more apt. In certain other cases, the mail or wire fraud statutes, or other relatively broad statutes, are used primarily as jurisdictional bases for the prosecution of other offenses. For example, a state arson offense where a fraudulent insurance claim was mailed might be prosecuted as mail fraud. Where the indictment or information setting forth the count of conviction (or a stipulation as described in 1B1.2(a)) establishes an offense more aptly covered by another guideline, apply that guideline rather than 2F1.1. Otherwise, in such cases, 2F1.1 is to be applied, but a departure from the guidelines may be considered.
14. "Financial institution," as used in this guideline, is defined to include any institution described in 18 U.S.C. 20, 656, 657, 1005-1007, and 1014; any state or foreign bank, trust company, credit union, insurance company, investment company, mutual fund, savings (building and loan) association, union or employee pension fund; any health, medical or hospital insurance association; brokers and dealers registered, or required to be registered, with the Securities and Exchange Commission; futures commodity merchants and commodity pool operators registered, or required to be registered, with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission; and any similar entity, whether or not insured by the federal government. "Union or employee pension fund" and "any health, medical, or hospital insurance association," as used above, primarily include large pension funds that serve many individuals (e.g., pension funds of large national and international organizations, unions, and corporations doing substantial interstate business), and associations that undertake to provide pension, disability, or other benefits (e.g., medical or hospitalization insurance) to large numbers of persons.
15. An offense shall be deemed to have "substantially jeopardized the safety and soundness of a financial institution" if, as a consequence of the offense, the institution became insolvent; substantially reduced benefits to pensioners or insureds; was unable on demand to refund fully any deposit, payment, or investment; was so depleted of its assets as to be forced to merge with another institution in order to continue active operations; or was placed in substantial jeopardy of any of the above.
16. "The defendant derived more than $1,000,000 in gross receipts from the offense," as used in subsection (b)(6)(B), generally means that the gross receipts to the defendant individually, rather than to all participants, exceeded $1,000,000. "Gross receipts from the offense" includes all property, real or personal, tangible or intangible, which is obtained directly or indirectly as a result of such offense. See 18 U.S.C. 982(a)(4).
17. If the defendant is convicted under 18 U.S.C. 225 (relating to a continuing financial crimes enterprise), the offense level is that applicable to the underlying series of offenses comprising the "continuing financial crimes enterprise."
18. If subsection (b)(6)(A) or (B) applies, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that the offense involved "more than minimal planning."
Background: This guideline is designed to apply to a wide variety of fraud cases. The statutory maximum term of imprisonment for most such offenses is five years. The guideline does not link offense characteristics to specific code sections. Because federal fraud statutes are so broadly written, a single pattern of offense conduct usually can be prosecuted under several code sections, as a result of which the offense of conviction may be somewhat arbitrary. Furthermore, most fraud statutes cover a broad range of conduct with extreme variation in severity.
Empirical analyses of pre-guidelines practice showed that the most important factors that determined sentence length were the amount of loss and whether the offense was an isolated crime of opportunity or was sophisticated or repeated. Accordingly, although they are imperfect, these are the primary factors upon which the guideline has been based.
The extent to which an offense is planned or sophisticated is important in assessing its potential harmfulness and the dangerousness of the offender, independent of the actual harm. A complex scheme or repeated incidents of fraud are indicative of an intention and potential to do considerable harm. In pre-guidelines practice, this factor had a significant impact, especially in frauds involving small losses. Accordingly, the guideline specifies a 2-level enhancement when this factor is present.
Use of false pretenses involving charitable causes and government agencies enhances the sentences of defendants who take advantage of victims' trust in government or law enforcement agencies or their generosity and charitable motives. Taking advantage of a victim's self-interest does not mitigate the seriousness of fraudulent conduct. However, defendants who exploit victims' charitable impulses or trust in government create particular social harm. A defendant who has been subject to civil or administrative proceedings for the same or similar fraudulent conduct demonstrates aggravated criminal intent and is deserving of additional punishment for not conforming with the requirements of judicial process or orders issued by federal, state, or local administrative agencies.
Offenses that involve the use of transactions or accounts outside the United States in an effort to conceal illicit profits and criminal conduct involve a particularly high level of sophistication and complexity. These offenses are difficult to detect and require costly investigations and prosecutions. Diplomatic processes often must be used to secure testimony and evidence beyond the jurisdiction of United States courts. Consequently, a minimum level of 12 is provided for these offenses.
Subsection (b)(6)(A) implements, in a broader form, the instruction to the Commission in Section 961(m) of Public Law 101-73.
Subsection (b)(6)(B) implements the instruction to the Commission in Section 2507 of Public Law 101-647.
Historical Note: Effective November 1, 1987. Amended effective June 15, 1988 (see Appendix C, amendment 30);November 1, 1989 (see Appendix C, amendments 154-156 and 303); November 1, 1990 (see Appendix C, amendment 317); November 1, 1991 (see Appendix C, amendments 364 and 393); November 1, 1992 (see Appendix C, amendment 470); November 1, 1993 (see Appendix C, amendments 481 and 482).
2F1.2. Insider Trading
(a) Base Offense Level: 8
(b) Specific Offense Characteristic
(1) Increase by the number of levels from the table in 2F1.1 corresponding to the gain resulting from the offense.
Statutory Provisions: 15 U.S.C. 78j and 17 C.F.R. 240.10b-5. For additional statutory provision(s), see Appendix A (Statutory Index).
1. Section 3B1.3 (Abuse of Position of Trust or Use of Special Skill) should be applied only if the defendant occupied and abused a position of special trust. Examples might include a corporate president or an attorney who misused information regarding a planned but unannounced takeover attempt. It typically would not apply to an ordinary "tippee."
Background: This guideline applies to certain violations of Rule 10b-5 that are commonly referred to as "insider trading." Insider trading is treated essentially as a sophisticated fraud. Because the victims and their losses are difficult if not impossible to identify, the gain, i.e., the total increase in value realized through trading in securities by the defendant and persons acting in concert with him or to whom he provided inside information, is employed instead of the victims' losses.
Certain other offenses, e.g., 7 U.S.C. 13(e), that involve misuse of inside information for personal gain also may appropriately be covered by this guideline.
Historical Note: Effective November 1, 1987.
United States Sentencing Commission