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10 Mail & Wire Fraud Statute Facets

Aug 17, 2007
Fraudulent misrepresentations and schemes to defraud which use the United States mail to further that fraudulent conduct, can be prosecuted as mail fraud. Also, another commonly used federal law to prosecute misrepresentations and frauds is the statute known as "wire fraud."

The United States Attorney Office will seek an Indictment (a charging document formally charging the person with a crime) for mail fraud when the prosecution believes it has evidence of any fraud scheme that uses the mail systems to make that fraud scheme function. There is no specific requirement for the type of fraudulent scheme that has to be alleged by the U.S. Attorney Office, only that there is some kind of fraud or misrepresentation wherein the U.S. mails or commercial carriers are used to mail an item related to the scheme, such as a check, a contract, an application for credit, property valuations, etc. Originally, the mail fraud statute required some type of use of the U.S. mail; now, the statute requires the use of either the U.S. mail or any mail carrier in an attempt to carry out the fraud.

The United States Attorney Office will also seek an Indictment alleging wire fraud when it believes that the evidence will support any type of scheme to defraud that uses interstate wire communications further the fraud scheme. Wire communications utilized by persons who were engaged in a scheme to defraud are often the following: wire transfers of monies to or from a financial institution; electronic mail (e-mail) communications; facsimile (FAX) transmissions; and radio or television communications.

The United States Code contains federal crimes that are prosecuted by the Department of Justice or its field offices, the United States Attorney Offices, in respective districts in the different states. Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341, is titled Frauds and Swindles, and it is commonly referred to as the mail fraud statute. Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 1341 reads as follows (in summary)...
MAIL FRAUD

Whoever
1) having devised, or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud,
or
2) for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, or to sell, dispose of, loan
3) something of value or some item and
4) places in any post office or authorized depository for mail matter
5) any item to be delivered by interstate carrier
shall be fined or imprisoned for not more than 20 years, or both.

WIRE FRAUD
The violation of wire fraud is also a commonly used criminal law used to prosecute people for committing fraud while using wire communications that travel interstate or internationally.

Under Title 18, United States Code, Section 1014, it is a federal crime to commit fraud using a wire communication that travels in interstate or foreign commerce. 18 U.S.C. 1343 reads as follows

Fraud by Wire, Radio or Television (Wire Fraud) -
Whoever
1) having devised, or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, or
2) for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises
3) transmits, or causes to be transmitted, by wire, radio or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce,
4) any writings, signs, signals, pictures, or sounds
5) for the purpose of executing the scheme or artifice
shall be or imprisoned for more than 20 years, or both.
About the Author
Neil Lemons represents Dallas-based criminal attorney John Teakell, who offers defense for wire and mail fraud as well as other white collar offenses. For more information, visit http://www.teakelllaw.com.
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