Mail fraud and wire fraud are the most commonly used crimes charged in federal white-collar cases. Put simply, prosecutors just love these charges. The reason for that is because the mail fraud and wire fraud statutes are drafted in a way that encompasses most business activities in the modern world. Any crime committed by means of the use of mails, telephone, and computers would fall into the category of either mail fraud or wire fraud.
Federal prosecutors handling white-collar cases often use wire fraud and mail fraud charges in fraud and other white-collar cases because they know that these charges can be used even when there is no real evidence to support any other criminal charges. Mail fraud and wire fraud charges are often added to the indictments because that gives prosecutors an upper hand in putting extra pressure in defendants and significantly increase potential sentences.
From our Wall Street office in New York City, wire and mail fraud defense attorneys of Joseph Potashnik and Associates defend individuals charged with mail and wire fraud as well as other white-collar federal charges. We have built a solid track record of providing first-class successful representation to clients facing white collar criminal investigations and prosecutions. With close to 80 years of combined experience, our attorneys have taken over 100 cases to jury trial and handled thousands of criminal matters, including some of the very complex white-collar cases in New York and across the country.
What Are Wire Fraud and Mail Fraud?
Mail fraud is the use of the U.S. Postal Service, or any other private shipping carrier, in order to commit any type of fraud. Wire fraud is the use of the phone, e-mail, Internet, fax or any other type of electronic transmission in a scheme to commit any fraud. It doesn’t matter what type of fraud is involved. As long as the purpose of the scheme to commit any fraud, the crime is committed. Common fraudulent schemes used in connection with wire and mail fraud include any fraud crimes such as tax fraud, bank and corporate fraud, immigration fraud, bankruptcy fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, healthcare fraud, and other white-collar offenses.
From the prosecution’s perspective proving mail fraud an wire fraud is not difficult. In order to secure conviction, the government must establish that the scheme was fraudulent and the defendant used the mails or electronic communications to further the scheme and had specific intent to defraud the victim.
The main requirement for a mail fraud or wire fraud prosecution is the use of the federal mail (or electronic communication) to further a fraudulent scheme. It is important to realize that each use of the federal mails and each use of wire communication such as a fax, phone, or the Internet constitutes a separate offense and each mailing can constitute a separate count in the indictment.
Even though each mailing is a separate offense, the government is permitted to base a single count on any number of mailings.
One can be guilty of mail fraud if the individual “places, to be processed, or takes or receives, any mailed matter which has been processed by the post office, or “knowingly causes” mailed matter to be delivered by the post office. This means that if you mail an envelope or ask some innocent party to mail you an envelope, or ask someone to help you mail an envelope, all as part of the fraudulent scheme, you could be guilty of mail fraud.
Mail and Wire Fraud and Employment Relationships
One of frequently encountered triggers of mail and wire fraud prosecutions is the deprivation of faithful and honest services. If a person tampers with the employer-employee relationship for the purpose of causing the employee to breach his duty, that person is defrauding the employer of a lawful right. Fraud in the area of employment typically involves an employee with a conflict of interest, making a profit at the employer’s expense and without the employer’s knowledge by either engaging in outright thefts from the employer, by accepting illegal payments, or by stealing funds or diverting contracts from the employer to individuals or companies created by or connected to the employee. Such breaches of fiduciary duties often result in mail and wire fraud charges
It is important to realize that it’s not even essential to use the mail or electronic communications to reach the goals of the fraudulent scheme, only that it had been done. For example, if you discuss the scheme with a co-conspirator by email or telephone, you could be committing a separate crime of wire or mail fraud.
Also, you don’t need to actually use the mails or electronic communications yourself to commit the fraud. You could be committing mail and wire fraud if you cause the victim to use the mail or wire.
One of the terrifying details of mail and wire fraud from the criminal defendant’s perspective is that each instance of using the mail or wire is a separate crime, which will be charged separately resulting in multi-count indictments. The prosecution doesn’t need to prove all of them, just one. You could be charged with aiding and abetting mail fraud or wire if you help someone mail or wire, even if you don’t know about the fraudulent scheme and each instance could be charged as a separate crime.
Mail and Wire Fraud Defense Attorney
If you face mail or wire fraud charges, you need to speak with a defense attorney who has experience of handing federal white-collar cases. Our firm has defended numerous federal criminal cases in New York and across the country. Contact our mail and wire fraud lawyers today to set up and immediate consultation.