What You Should Do When You Are Under Investigation for Mail Fraud
Federal agents and prosecutors regularly conduct mail fraud investigations in connection with investigations for other serious federal offenses. If you are being investigated for mail fraud, it is critical that you hire an experienced defense team to intervene in the government’s investigation and fight to help you avoid the consequences of a conviction.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) and other federal agencies take an aggressive approach to investigating and prosecuting individuals and organizations suspected of mail fraud and related criminal activities. If you or your business is the target of a federal investigation involving mail fraud, you need to understand two things:
- The penalties for mail fraud are serious, including up to 20 years of federal imprisonment; and,
- The best way to protect yourself against these penalties is to take action before your investigation leads to criminal charges.
At the Oberheiden, P.C., we are committed to helping our clients protect themselves against the government. If you are facing a federal investigation for mail fraud, we encourage you to read the information below and then contact us 24/7 for a free, confidential consultation.
Are You Facing a Mail Fraud Investigation? Here are Five Steps to Take Right Now.
1. Understand What Constitutes Mail Fraud.
Mail fraud is a federal crime that involves using the United States Postal Service (USPS) or any private interstate carrier (such as FedEx or UPS) for purposes of obtaining money or property by fraudulent means or under false pretenses. You can also commit mail fraud by using the USPS or a private carrier to transport counterfeit products or currency. Importantly, (i) both the sender and the recipient can be found guilty of mail fraud, and (ii) you do not actually have to carry out the underlying fraudulent scheme in order to violate the federal mail fraud statute.
Examples of activities that can be charged as mail fraud include:
- Engaging in a fraudulent scheme (such as a securities fraud scheme targeting elderly investors)
- Mailing fake invoices
- Misrepresenting the quality of products or services in a mailed advertisement
- Shipping counterfeit goods
- Stealing checks or credit cards from someone else’s mail
- Using the mail to solicit people’s personal or financial information for fraudulent purposes
A closely related offense to mail fraud is the federal crime of wire fraud. The federal wire fraud statute covers the same types of fraudulent activities as mail fraud, but applies to use of the phone, internet, or other technological means instead of the mail.
2. Understand When the Federal Government Conducts Mail Fraud Investigations.
Since mail fraud involves using the mail to commit another fraudulent offense, mail fraud investigations generally arise out of investigations into other suspected criminal activities. Common examples include:
- Blackmail and extortion
- Credit card fraud
- Identity theft
- Insurance fraud
- Mortgage fraud
- Securities fraud
In addition, during mail fraud investigations, federal agents and prosecutors will typically seek to obtain evidence to charge the target of the investigation (or the target of another investigation) with money laundering and violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) as well.
3. Learn about the Defenses that are Available for Mail Fraud.
As with all federal criminal offenses, when facing an investigation for mail fraud, there are a number of defenses that you may be able assert in order to prevent prosecutors from filing charges against you. While you certainly could wait and present these defenses at trial, taking action early during your investigation can spare you the stress, risk, cost, and consequences that come with fighting to have federal charges dismissed. At Oberheiden, P.C., our goal is always to have our clients’ investigations terminated before they lead to federal charges.
In order to do so, our attorneys will frequently assert the following defenses on behalf of our clients:
- Lack of Fraudulent Intent. One element of the crime of mail fraud is fraudulent intent. In order to obtain a conviction, the government must be able to prove that you intended to commit a fraud using the mail. If you lacked this intent (in other words, if you undertook the allegedly criminal activity in “good faith”), you are not guilty of mail fraud.
- Mistake of Fact. Another way to prevent the government from establishing intent is by demonstrating that you were unaware that you were involved in a crime. If you mistakenly believed that your conduct was lawful (for example, you did not know that products you received in the mail were counterfeit), you do not deserve to be held criminally responsible.
Remember, regardless of the facts at hand, the government has the burden of proving its case beyond a reasonable doubt. If you can cast enough doubt on the government’s case during your investigation, you can close your case without ever facing the threat of a conviction at trial.
4. Put an Experienced Legal Team on Your Side.
So, how do you do this? How do you convince federal agents and prosecutors that they are going down the wrong path? It takes extensive knowledge of the law, a sharp legal mind, and direct insight into how and why the government conducts criminal mail fraud investigations.
In other words, it takes putting an experienced legal team on your side.
When choosing a legal team, you need to act quickly, but it is also critical that you make an informed decision about your legal representation. At Oberheiden, P.C., we offer free, confidential consultations, and we are happy to schedule a time for you to meet with our legal team to discuss your mail fraud legal defense.
5. Prevent Your Investigation from Leading to Federal Criminal Charges.
By the time you find out that you are being investigated, there is a strong likelihood that the government is already well on its way to building a mail fraud case against you. As a result, it is critical that you take immediate action to protect yourself. This means hiring a criminal defense team, but it also means taking action directly.
In order to help our clients make smart decisions in the face of a federal investigation, we offer an “Emergency Defense Package” that incorporates our attorneys’ vast knowledge and experience into easily understandable resources that can be used to both (i) help our attorneys build your defense, and (i) help you avoid common mistakes that can increase your chances of facing federal charges. If you are interested in learning more about our “Emergency Defense Package,” please contact us today.
Why You Need to Intervene Before Your Investigation Leads to Charges.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: If you are facing a federal investigation, you need to take aggressive action now, before the investigation leads to criminal charges. But, if you are already being investigated by the federal government, why does it matter if you formally get charged?
Where do we begin?
For one, if you never get charged, you never have to face the prospect of a conviction. A conviction for mail fraud can carry a $250,000 fine plus up to 20 years of federal imprisonment. This is just for mail fraud. Keep in mind, if you are being investigated for mail fraud, there is a good chance that you are being investigated for other federal offenses as well.
For another, if you choose to do nothing, you will be at risk of making serious mistakes that could both (i) increase your chances of getting convicted, and (ii) increase the penalties you will face after you hear the judge’s or jury’s guilty verdict at trial. An experienced attorney will be able to help you avoid these mistakes during your investigation, and our “Emergency Defense Package” is designed to help you avoid these mistakes as well.
Why You Want Former Federal Prosecutors On Your Defense Team.
At Oberheiden, P.C. one of the key factors that sets us apart from other federal criminal defense law firms is our attorneys’ past government experience. Many of the attorneys on our criminal defense team joined Oberheiden, P.C. after building distinguished careers as federal prosecutors, representing the government in investigations and prosecutions involving mail fraud and a wide range of other serious offenses. As a result of this experience:
- We maintain close contacts in the DOJ and other federal agencies;
- We know the decision-making process behind federal investigations; and,
- We are intimately familiar with the federal government’s prosecution strategies (in fact, our attorneys were involved in developing many of the strategies that are still in use today).
If You Are Facing a Federal Mail Fraud Investigation, You Need to Take Action – Contact Oberheiden, P.C. Now
To schedule a free, confidential consultation and learn more about Oberheiden, P.C.’s “Emergency Defense Package,” please contact us today. We represent individuals and companies in federal criminal investigations nationwide. You do not have time to waste, so call (800) 701-7249 or send us a message online and we will make arrangements for you to meet with our federal criminal defense team as soon as possible.