Modern technology provides us more opportunities to connect, do business, and communicate than ever before. Two crimes that involve the way we communicate and conduct business online are mail fraud and wire fraud.
White collar crimes like mail fraud and wire are often aggressively prosecuted by the state of Minnesota and the federal court system. You need to know precisely what these crimes require, how they are prosecuted, how they are punished, and how to proceed if you are being charged with either of these crimes.
What is mail fraud?
Mail fraud is the purposeful intent to defraud another person by means of using the US mail. Mail fraud is most often committed for the purpose of financial gain. The crime may target individuals, businesses, banks, financial institutions and even governmental agencies.
By its nature, mail fraud is a federal crime sine it involves the accomplice of a federal agency, the US Postal Service (USPS). In order to have committed mail fraud, you must have:
- Devised a scheme or plan with the purpose to defraud others
- Used the USPS to do so
You’ll notice that the language used is very broad. This leaves open the possibility of charges under any number of scenarios.
How is mail fraud investigated?
The US Postal Inspectors Investigation’s Unit opens a case, initiating the process. If they find that mail fraud is SUSPECTED, they send the case to the DOJ or Department of Justice for prosecution. It is not uncommon, however, for mail fraud cases to be investigated first by the FBI and the IRS, as well as any other federal agency, like FEMA, with an investigations division.
What is wire fraud?
Similar to mail fraud, wire fraud consists of devising a plan to defraud individuals, financial institutions, or the government. In this case, the methods used to defraud are extended to include interstate wires. For the purpose of this statute, interstate wires, include the use of the Internet or telephone.
To be charged you must have:
- Devised or voluntarily took part in a scheme or plan to defraud another entity for financial gain
- Showed intent to defraud
- Reasonably believed that interstate wire communications would be used to complete the fraud
- Used interstate wire communications to commit the crime
What are the possible penalties for mail fraud and wire fraud?
If convicted, you could face as many as 20 years in prison and considerable fines. These can increase if you are found guilty of defrauding a financial institution.
Seek representation right away
A charge of mail fraud or wire fraud is serious. Often, these charges will accompany other often more serious charges. Instead of trying to deal with the federal legal system by yourself, you should seek the assistance of a criminal defense lawyer who understands how to defend those who are accused of these crimes.
It is easy to see how the mail fraud and wire fraud requirements could be easily misconstrued or used to investigate and prosecute a number of situations, in which you have an innocent explanation. Adequate representation is important early-on so that your case is presented in a way that presents your specific involvement in the most favorable light.