Mail & Wire Fraud Defense Attorneys
Two of the crimes most frequently brought forward by federal prosecutors are mail fraud, as defined in 18 U.S.C. §1341, and wire fraud, as defined in 18 U.S.C. §1343. The reason for their common use is that almost all modern-era frauds are believed to have involved some form of non-face-to-face communication in carrying out the underlying scheme. Consequently, these offenses are often charged in conjunction with other financial crimes like bank fraud (18 U.S.C. §1344), healthcare fraud (18 U.S.C. §1347), securities fraud (18 U.S.C. §1344), access device theft (18 U.S.C. §1029), and computer fraud (18 U.S.C. §1030).
Essentially, if a fraud is alleged to have used electronic communication, it falls under the wire fraud statute, while if it is alleged to have used the United States Postal Service or another interstate commercial carrier like Federal Express or UPS, it is governed by the mail fraud statute.
Wire Fraud: using telecommunications or the internet to commit fraud.
While the “wire” in Wire fraud originally referred to telephone cables connecting homes and businesses, this crime has transformed over the years. While telemarketing or call-based schemes are still prevalent, many schemes rely on social media or the internet.
Under 18 U.S.C 1343, the Government must prove:
- that the defendant voluntarily and intentionally devised or participated in a scheme to defraud another out of money;
- that the defendant did so with the intent to defraud;
- that it was reasonably foreseeable that interstate wire communications would be used; and
- that interstate wire communications were in fact used
Wire Fraud captures a large range of allegations. Using telecommunications or the internet to recruit investors for Ponzi schemes or similarly fraudulent financial ventures is a common form of wire fraud. This includes placing ads online or contacting investors over social media. Romance scams, Lottery scams, and telemarketing scams are also prevalent.
In this digital age, phishing has become a new frontier in Wire Fraud litigation. Phishing involves sending emails, text messages, or other digital communication that appears, on first glance, to be from a legitimate company like a bank or telephone company. These messages will often tell users that one of their accounts was frozen or tampered with, and invites them to provide personal information to reclaim the account via a link provided in the communication. Some of these links ask people to put their own information in, but several will infect devices with malware or skim personal information from it.
Defenses to Wire Fraud
The Government must prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt. One of the most common defenses to Wire Fraud is lack of intent. If you believed the statements or representations you made to the victim were truthful, then the Government failed to meet their burden.