The Elements of Mail Fraud
If you have been accused of mail fraud, you could be facing significant jail time and fines. To ensure that you are not convicted of a crime that you did not commit, please contact an experienced white collar crime attorney who can help protect your rights.
How is Mail Fraud Committed?
There are two main elements to mail fraud. The first involves devising or intending to devise a scheme to defraud someone else, while the second requires the use of the mail for the purpose of executing or attempting to execute the scheme. Furthermore, it does not matter whether the scheme was originated by phone, on the internet, or in the mail. All that is required is that the U.S. postal service is used at some point to further the scheme.
What Does Federal Law Prohibit?
Under federal law, a person can be charged with mail fraud if they use the U.S. mail service for any of the following activities:
- Devising or intending to devise a scheme to defraud;
- Obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, promises, or representations; or
- Selling, disposing of, loaning, altering, exchanging, distributing, or procuring any counterfeit coin, security, obligation, or other article for unlawful use.
Accepting payment in response to a fraudulent offer or making a fraudulent offer by using the mail is also enough to constitute mail fraud. This prohibition against using the mails for unlawful purposes includes placing or depositing anything associated with the fraudulent scheme in a post office or authorized depository. This could include contracts, receipts, or any other communication if it is related to a fraudulent deal. Furthermore, the law does not just cover items delivered by the United States Postal Service, but also applies to mail sent through private and commercial interstate carriers. Proving that items, documents, or funds were sent through the use of interstate mails is critical because the federal government’s jurisdiction is limited to matters that affect interstate commerce.
Those who are convicted of this offense face up to 20 years imprisonment, although the sentence could be enhanced if the scheme involves any benefit authorized in connection with a presidentially declared major disaster or affects a financial institution. In these cases, defendants could be fined up to $1,000,000 and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Call Today if You Have Been Charged with Mail Fraud
Mail fraud is one of the most commonly charged white collar offenses and comes with some of the most severe penalties. For this reason, it is critical for those who have been accused of this offense to speak with an attorney as soon as possible about formulating a defense. If you are being investigated for or have been charged with mail fraud or another white collar crime, please call Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. at 305-670-9919 for a free consultation. A member of our legal team is standing by to address your white collar crime-related questions or concerns.