“Once Victim, Always Victim”: Compensated Individuals Under the Amended Sentencing Guidelines on Fraud
Until recently, courts disagreed over whether individuals who were compensated by a third party such as a bank or insurance company ought to count as victims for purposes of the multiple-victim sentencing enhancement in the Federal Sentencing Guidelines on Fraud. The most recent Amendments to the Guidelines resolve this split, permitting compensated individuals to be counted as victims where their identity was used in the commission of the fraud. However, the new Guidelines do not resolve a separate split, likely to become more divisive under the new Guidelines, over whether both compensated individuals and their compensators can simultaneously be treated as victims for enhancement purposes. This Comment argues that the retributive purpose of sentencing suggests that the new Guidelines properly treat compensated individuals as victims, but that they should be further amended to clarify that treating both compensated individuals and their compensators as victims causes impermissible double counting. Resolving this issue is crucial to achieving the dominant purpose of the Guidelines: consistent and fair punishments throughout the federal courts.