If you are facing criminal charges for securities fraud, mortgage fraud, healthcare fraud, government contract fraud or any other fraud-related federal offense, you may be facing charges for mail or wire fraud as well. The federal mail and wire fraud statutes are extremely broad, and in today’s world allow prosecutors to bring charges under almost any circumstances involving another federal fraud crime.
Understanding Mail and Wire Fraud
Mail and wire fraud are similar offenses that each carry a maximum penalty of up to a $1 million fine and 30 years of federal imprisonment. The mail fraud statute makes it a federal crime to use the U.S. Postal Service or any other interstate delivery service (such as UPS or FedEx) in any way in connection with any aspect of an attempted crime involving fraud, counterfeiting or false pretenses. As a result, prosecutors can bring mail fraud charges against individuals who:
- Devise or “intend to devise” a plan to use the mail for a fraudulent scheme;
- Send counterfeit money or goods through the mail; or,
- Receive materials in the mail that are to be used as part of a fraudulent or counterfeiting scheme.
Note that it is possible to be convicted of mail fraud even if you never commit the underlying crime. In other words, if you receive counterfeiting supplies in the mail but you never actually counterfeit anything, you can still be convicted of mail fraud.
Wire fraud is similar, but where mail fraud covers physical delivery of objects or communications by mail or delivery service, wire fraud covers “wire, radio, or television communication.” Critically, this includes both Internet and phone communications.
Some examples of conduct that may constitute wire fraud include:
- Emailing falsified invoices
- Running an online scam
- Using false pretenses to obtain someone else’s personal information online
- Using spam, phishing or other online methods to perpetrate a fraud
- Using telemarketing to perpetrate a fraud
As with mail fraud, in order to be convicted of wire fraud you do not need to actually defraud anyone. In many cases, using a phone or the Internet to take steps toward committing another offense (even if you never carry out that offense) is enough to face the possibility of a federal conviction.
Facing Charges for Mail or Wire Fraud
Since mail and wire fraud do not require the commission of a substantive offense, and since it is possible to commit these crimes simply by receiving communications by mail, over the phone or online, many individuals are surprised to learn that they are facing the very real possibility of a conviction for a federal crime. If you have been charged with mail or wire fraud, you need to take your situation very seriously. Federal prosecutors often use these charges to help solidify their chances of obtaining a conviction.
Cheshire Parker Schneider & Bryan, PLLC | Raleigh Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys
There are potential defenses to mail and wire fraud, and to protect yourself it is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. At Cheshire Parker Schneider & Bryan, PLLC, we provide experienced representation for federal charges and investigations throughout the Raleigh, NC area. To speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney, call (919) 833-3114 or contact us online today.