Mail & Wire Fraud
Did you check the mail?
Any criminal activity that involved the United States mail or electronic/digital communications, or both, is considered Mail or Wire Fraud. Many charged crimes that fall under this definition actually use mail, television, radio, or the Internet in order to transmit false or fraudulent promises or advertisements to the unsuspecting public.
What the Feds have to prove
To prove mail or wire fraud under 18 U.S.C. §§ 1341, 1343, the United States Attorney must prove the following:
There was a scheme to defraud by materially false and fraudulent representations;
The defendant(s) knowingly and willfully participated in the scheme to defraud, with knowledge of its fraudulent nature and with specific intent to defraud;
In execution of that scheme, the defendant used or caused the use of the mails or wires.
In essence, whenever a person engages in criminal activity which requires the use of mail or wire communications (Internet or telephone), the Government can, and usually does, charge the crime of Mail and Wire Fraud.
There are viable defenses to Mail and Wire Fraud charges. Successful defenses will negate one or more of the elements of the crime, all of which the Government is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
Most commonly attacked is the Government’s claim that the defendant possessed specific intent to deprive another of money, property, or the intangible right to their honest services. In addition, a defendant might argue that the “in furtherance” requirement has not been satisfied since the wire transmission occurred after the scheme had reached fruition. Another example of a successful defense to wire and mail fraud is the argument that an employee of a defendant lacked the authority to write a letter on the defendant’s behalf, thus negating the “causes the mails to be used” requirement.