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Mail and Wire Fraud: The Basics

Wire and mail fraud is more common than you may think and can take many different forms. Wire fraud includes telemarketing fraud, phishing, and spam-related schemes. Wire fraud, as you may expect, is a type of fraud that involves the use of electronic communications.

To be convicted of wire fraud, the government must prove 4 elements:

  • The individual created or participated in a scheme to defraud another out of money;
  • The individual did that with the intent to defraud another;
  • It was reasonably foreseeable that the individual would use wire communications; and
  • The individual did in fact use wire communications.

Mail fraud is a similar crime but involves the use of the mail, rather than electronic communications. To be convicted of mail fraud, the government must prove that:

  • The individual devised or intended to devise a scheme to defraud another; and
  • The individual used the mail to execute or attempt to execute that scheme.

If convicted of mail/wire fraud, there is a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison. The particular sentence an individual faces depends on multiple factors, including seriousness of the crime, criminal history and mitigating and aggravating factors.

As you can see from the two definitions, many fraud cases will be charged as wire fraud or mail fraud. The good news is that there are defenses to these crimes. Some of those defenses may include simply having the facts wrong. A knowledgeable, experienced attorney should be able to look through the facts of a case and if there are any discrepancies, prepare a defense to prove the government wrong. Another example of a viable defense is statute of limitations. There is a statute of limitations, meaning a time-limit, on how long the government has to bring charges under these statutes. Federal statutes of limitations are often substantially longer than state statutes. In fact, some schemes affecting a financial institution can give the government 10 years to bring a case. If the criminal acts occurred outside of that time frame, and if your arguments support it, your case may get dismissed.  

If you are facing a criminal charge involving mail or wire fraud, make sure you have an experienced federal defense lawyer on your side. We have both the experience and the knowledge to advise you on your case and prepare the best viable defense for you. Give us a call today for your free consultation.


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