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Opinion
Noah Feldman

Sticky-Fingered Missionary Clarifies Bank Fraud

The case of Kevin Loughrin, who stole checks and used them to get cash from Target stores, gave the U.S. Supreme Court a chance to decide whether all frauds with a check are federal crimes.
Forging this might be a federal crime.
Forging this might be a federal crime.

Perhaps, like me, you trust Mormon missionaries and enjoy chatting with them even if you already have your own religion. Even so, if you happen to see one with his hand in your mailbox, you should probably tell someone. Kevin Loughrin used phony LDS missionary cover to steal checks from boxes all over Salt Lake City. He then altered the checks, used them to buy stuff at Target, and later returned the goods for cash. Today, the U.S. Supreme Court held that he was guilty of federal bank fraud.

Why should you care about bad Kevin? Because Loughrin's case gave the court the opportunity to answer the important legal question of whether all frauds that involve a check are criminal under federal law. The court said they are -- provided the fraudster's lie is what makes the bank part with the money under its control.