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Mail and Wire Fraud

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Mail and Wire Fraud Defense Lawyer

Under 18 U.S.C. § 1341, Mail Fraud is punishable by imprisonment of up to 20 years or fines or both.
Under 18 U.S.C. § 1343, Wire Fraud is punishable by imprisonment of up to 20 years or fines or both.

Mail fraud and wire fraud are federal crimes that may carry fines of up to $250,000 and imprisonment of up to 20 years for each individual offense. However, under certain circumstances, the punishment can become even more severe. If you have been arrested or are concerned that you may be under investigation for mail or wire fraud, we urge you to contact us right away. Our attorneys are experienced in fighting federal charges, and we will do everything in our power to have your case dismissed.

Mail & Wire Fraud Explained

The federal crime of mail fraud is defined in Section 1341 of Chapter 18 of the U.S. Code. The law states:

“Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme . . . for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, or to . . . furnish or procure for unlawful use any counterfeit [item] for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice or attempting so to do . . . deposits or causes to be deposited any matter or thing whatever to be sent or delivered by [the Postal Service or] any private or commercial interstate carrier, or takes or receives therefrom, any such matter or thing, or knowingly causes to be delivered by mail or such carrier according to the direction thereon, or at the place at which it is directed to be delivered by the person to whom it is addressed, any such matter or thing, shall be [guilty of mail fraud].”

You can see some of the key points that individuals and businesses need to be aware of when using the mail for financial gain:

  • You can be convicted of mail fraud for devising or “intending to devise” a plan to use the mail for a fraudulent scheme.
  • You can also be convicted of mail fraud for sending counterfeit money or goods.
  • Mail fraud applies not only to packages sent through the U.S. Postal Service, but also through private carriers (such as FedEx and UPS).
  • Employees of the post office and private carriers can be charged with mail fraud if they knowingly participate in the scheme by assisting in the transport of the materials involved in the fraudulent scheme (or if they knowingly help ship counterfeit money or goods).
  • Individuals who receive materials for a fraudulent scheme through the mail can be charged with mail fraud as well. This can include receiving communications or counterfeit items as part of a fraudulent scheme, or stealing items (such as checks or credit cards) out of someone else’s mail.

Equally important, the statute does not require that you are successful in committing fraud in order to be convicted. It is enough that you attempted to defraud someone to face serious federal charges. However, in order to convict you for fraud, the government will need to show that you did more than just send misleading advertisements or communications. The crime of mail fraud specifically requires that you attempted to obtain something in value based on false representations or empty promises.

The crime of wire fraud is similar to mail fraud, except that it involves the use of telephone, television, radio, or Internet communications instead of sending physical letters or products through the mail. Some common examples include:

  • Using spam, telemarketing, or phishing techniques as part of a fraudulent scheme
  • Emailing falsified invoices
  • Misrepresenting the quality of items or services for sale
  • Failing to fulfill online purchases through e-commerce and auction websites
  • Running a fraudulent lottery or sweepstakes (e.g., collecting entry fees or personal information but never intending to pay a winner)
  • Using false representations in order to collect personal or financial information

Defending Against Insurance Fraud Charges

In order to obtain a conviction for insurance fraud, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you (i) made a false statement, (ii) knew the statement was false, and (iii) made the statement in connection with a claim or payment under an insurance policy. The government must also prove that your false statement caused the insurance company to make a payment it otherwise wouldn’t have on a claim.

In defending clients against allegations of insurance fraud, we seek to attack each individual element of the prosecution’s case. We will raise questions about the inaccuracy of your statements. Even assuming your statements were inaccurate, we will challenge that you knew it at the time they were made. We can also call into question whether the insurance company relied on your statements, or if they would have paid (or been obligated to pay) even in the absence of the alleged fraud.

Of course, each case is different, and the facts in your case may dictate a specific approach. But, generally speaking, these are some of the primary defenses to insurance fraud charges under state and federal law.

Read more about facing investigations and defending allegations of health care fraud.

Penalties for Mail and Wire Fraud

The “standard” maximum sentence for mail fraud and wire fraud is a $250,000 and 20 years in federal prison. But, if your charges involve attempting to defraud a financial institution – such as a bank – or a fund established in connection with a declared national disaster or emergency, the maximums increase significantly. In these situations, the fines can climb to $1,000,000 and you can face 30 years behind bars for a single offense. Individuals convicted of state and federal fraud crimes can face restitution as well.

Speak with a Criminal Defense Lawyer about Your Case

The Oberheiden, P.C. offers free, confidential case evaluations. We want to earn your business by showing you how we can change your life. To speak with an experienced attorney about your mail fraud or wire fraud charges, call us at (888) 727-0472 or contact us online today.

Orange County 714-294-2000
Los Angeles 310-873-8140
Detroit 313-888-8807
Nationwide 888-452-2503