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National Crime Victim Law Institute

What Counts as a “Monetary Loss”?

October 20, 2010

When considering what counts as a monetary loss there are two considerations.  The loss may have been produced during the crime (an actual amount of money paid to the offender(s) or stolen by them); or it can be “moral damages” suffered by the victim for which the victim is asking for pecuniary compensation.   Moral damages are monetary damages that flow from the crime but are not directly from the offender’s conduct.  An example:

An offender hacks in/breaks in to a banks system and accesses its accounts by using a program that breaks its passwords and other security systems and tries to illegally transfer funds to another account.  Fortunately the bank is vigilant and discovers this and is able to stop the wire transfer before any money is actually transferred to the offender.  The bank has suffered no monetary loss during the crime. 

If, however, the bank can prove with evidence that as a result of the offender’s act they have lost business because customers no longer trust the bank’s protections then they can say they have suffered “moral damages”, and estimate those damages in dollar amounts.