Mail and Wire Fraud
Mail fraud and wire fraud involve the use of interstate carriers to transmit messages with specific intent regarding illegal activity. In essence, these crimes refer to any attempt to scam or otherwise deceive someone via mail or wire communication. In simpler terms, use your phone, laptop or PC to steal money from someone by lying to them, you are on the hook for a major federal felony offense that could send you to prison for up to 20 years.
Here’s a big secret: wire fraud charges are beloved by federal prosecutors because they are so easy to prove. To charge this felony requires only an alleged fraudulent scheme and one digital signal that crossed a state line. That means virtually any text, email, or phone call could be evidence. Similarly, mail fraud only requires something sent via the mail or a private carrier like UPS or FedEx that furthers the fraud. When you are up against a serious criminal charge, allegation, indictment, or investigation in federal court, you need a serious and dedicated advocate on your side.
- Conducting internal investigations to collect evidence
- Executing highly effective defense strategies by getting ahead of your case
- Negotiating with the Department of Justice or other law enforcement entities for diversion, probation or home detention rather than conviction or prison in some cases.
For help overcoming mail and wire fraud charges, team up with Bullotta Law as soon as possible. Federal criminal defense attorney R. Michael Bullotta provides expert guidance throughout the criminal justice process. Contact our Detroit, MI office to request your complimentary consultation now.
The Mail Fraud Statute and the Wire Fraud Statute: Understanding the Difference
According to federal law 18 U.S.C. Section 1341, mail fraud involves a defendant using the United States Postal Service or any other private or commercial interstate carrier (such as UPS or FedEx) to complete a fraudulent act in pursuit of money or other property.
On the other hand, the federal wire fraud statute (18 U.S.C. Section 1343) was enacted by congress in 1952 to further expand this definition. It involves the use of an interstate wire transmission.
The category of interstate wire communications includes but is not limited to the following:
- Instant Messaging/ SMS Text
- Social media/ Internet Chats
- Phone calls
Note: Mail fraud can occur within one state, but in order to violate the wire fraud statute, a wire transmission must have crossed a state line.
Our world has grown with the invention of every new interstate communications device, but so has our vulnerability. In recent decades, many people are manipulated online or over the phone. Under false pretenses, they may fall for telemarketing fraud, password phishing, a “Nigerian bank account” scheme, or other wire fraud schemes.
The government can convict a defendant even if no one falls for the fraudulent scheme. However, in order to convict someone of a mail or wire fraud scheme, federal prosecutors must show clear intent and scheme to defraud. This makes it impossible to “accidentally commit wire fraud.”
In addition, there are other charges commonly implicated in wire fraud investigations or prosecutions:
- Credit card fraud
- Aggravated Identity theft
- Phishing and hacking
- Tax fraud
- Securities fraud
- Money laundering
There are multiple possible defenses against mail and wire fraud charges. For example, if no “knowingly false” promises were made, or if evidence was illegally obtained.
Penalties of Mail Fraud or Wire Fraud
Mail and wire fraud are serious felony offenses. Consequences of committing wire fraud or mail fraud may include:
- Federal prison sentence of up to 20 years (or 30 years if the case involved federal disaster relief funds or a financial institution)
- Fines of up to $250,000
- Restitution payments to victims
To avoid these punishments, call Bullotta Law for representation. With us on your side, you’re backed by our thorough knowledge of federal and state law, and mail and wire fraud statutes and precedents.
Accused of a Federal Crime? Call Bullotta Law ASAP
State attorneys prosecute alleged violations of Michigan law, but federal crimes are prosecuted by federal prosecutors, called “Assistant United States Attorneys” or “AUSAs.”
To fight mail fraud charges, wire fraud charges, and other federal charges, contact Bullotta Law as soon as possible. With 23 years of experience working as an Assistant United States Attorney and federal prosecutor, Detroit federal criminal defense attorney R. Michael Bullotta knows how to stand up for your rights and position you for the best possible outcome. For a closer look at his history of successful jury trials and complex criminal investigations, visit our signature cases page. Wire fraud cases include United States v. Kwame Kilpatrick, et al. and United States v. Richard Sollars.
Over the years, Bullotta Law has handled hundreds of criminal cases including public corruption, mail and wire fraud, conspiracy, tax evasion, money laundering, murder, narcotics trafficking, racketeering, and more. Our areas of expertise are internal investigations, state criminal defense, and federal criminal defense.
To experience the highest level of representation for individuals and corporations accused of federal crimes, reach out to our Detroit, MI office today for a free consultation.