Wire and mail fraud laws criminalize communications that further a fraudulent scheme or action with the specific intent to commit fraud. Wire and mail fraud charges are therefore very common and often accompanied by other criminal charges relating to identity theft or other fraudulent schemes.
At Delahunty & Edelman LLP, our team of former federal prosecutors have years of experience in wire and mail fraud investigations and prosecuting these offenses in federal court. We also have a depth of experience in defending clients against wire fraud and/or mail fraud charges and related allegations.
Wire fraud occurs when an individual or organization devises or intends to devise a scheme to commit fraud using wire, radio, or television communications with a specific intent to commit the fraud. Wire fraud may include internet scams to defraud an individual of money or property, identity theft, phishing schemes to gain access to personal and financial information, and telemarketing fraud in which victims are contacted by phone and fraudulently deceived into providing their personal or financial information.
Wire fraud can also occur beyond these common scams. Such charges may be brought, for example, where an individual is involved in any type of fraudulent scheme including investment fraud, securities fraud, bank fraud, or other fraud offenses and the scheme includes the use of wire, radio, or telephone communications with the intent to execute or further a fraudulent scheme.
Victims of wire fraud may be individuals, but they could also be banks, companies, and even the government.
If convicted of wire fraud, individuals may face up to $250,000 in fines and organizations may face up to $500,000. Those convicted may be imprisoned for up to 20 years in federal prison.
Wire fraud is an offense that is often accompanied by other criminal charges related to fraudulent schemes. Therefore, the penalties outlined above, which apply to the offense of wire fraud only, may be only a fraction of a convicted individual or company’s total legal penalties for all of the offenses they may be charged with in connection to a fraudulent scheme.
Mail fraud, also known as postal fraud, is very similar to wire fraud in that it criminalizes the execution or furtherance of fraud through a means of communication. An individual who uses the postal service to execute or further any type of fraud with the specific intent to commit fraud may be charged with federal mail fraud.
Like wire fraud, mail fraud is an offense that often accompanies other charges involved in a fraudulent scheme. As such, it is possible for an individual to be charged with mail fraud and related offenses under California law and be prosecuted both in state and federal court.
Federal mail fraud charges can lead to significant legal and financial consequences. Potential penalties for mail fraud include up to 20 years of prison time, along with fines. If the mail fraud also involved a federally declared disaster or affected a financial institution, these penalties can be as high as 30 years of imprisonment and fines of up to $1,000,000.
If you or your organization have been accused of federal wire fraud or mail fraud, it is vital that you retain an experienced white collar criminal defense attorney to carefully examine the evidence against you, determine what evidence might be inadmissible against you in court, and identify viable defenses in your case.
Depending on the specific facts involved in your case, some potentially successful defenses may include:
You may be able to prove your innocence by showing that you did not in fact engage in the alleged action.
You lacked the requisite intent required to commit the offense due to a mistake of fact or because you lacked the specific intent to commit fraud through your actions.
You may be able to show through evidence that whatever item you mailed or communication you engaged in did not help execute the fraud.
The statute of limitations for fraud is 5 years. If more than 5 years have passed since the time the alleged actions took place, you cannot be convicted.
As in any criminal proceeding, the prosecution has the burden of proving each and every element of a wire fraud or mail fraud offense beyond a reasonable doubt. If the evidence against you is insufficient to meet this burden, you should not be convicted.
If you have been accused of wire fraud or mail fraud, or if you have been asked to answer questions in an investigation that may give rise to wire fraud or mail fraud charges, it is important that you seek legal advice as soon as possible.
As former Assistant U.S. Attorneys, Patrick Delahunty and Will Edelman bring the perspective and experience of federal prosecutors who have obtained convictions against multiple defendants in wire fraud or mail fraud cases in California. With experience on both sides of these cases, our team brings a valuable perspective when examining evidence in your case and developing a defense strategy.
Our goal is to resolve these allegations as quickly as possible and fully exonerate our clients or substantially mitigate the charges against them.