Mail and wire fraud are similar in all respects except for the means that the federal government alleges were used to perpetrate the fraud. Federal mail fraud charges are brought when the United States government believes that someone has devised a scheme to defraud another of money or property by false or fraudulent pretenses, representations or promises and used any interstate mail carrier to perpetrate the fraudulent activity.
Federal wire fraud charges are brought for the same sort of activities but when the United States government alleges that wire, radio, or television communications were used to perpetrate the fraudulent scheme across state lines or internationally. The types of communications covered by federal wire fraud law include those made by any wired device or means, such as telephone, facsimile (fax machine), the internet (i.e. e-mail), radio, or wire transfers of money.
Both mail and wire fraud can be punished by fines and up to twenty years in federal prison. If the alleged fraud occurred in relation to any presidentially declared disaster or emergency (e.g., an earthquake or hurricane) or the alleged fraud affects a financial institution, the penalties go up to $1,000,000 in fines and 30 years in federal prison. Both types of fraud are frequently alleged in conjunction with charges of bank fraud or insider trading. Many accusations of mail fraud and wire fraud involve one-of-a-kind situations. Others involve fairly common crimes, including:
- Contacting someone over the phone to get them to make an investment
- Sending e-mails with phishing scams and other means of identity or credit card theft
- Online auction fraud involving taking money for an item and not delivering the item
- Sending forged checks as payments through the mail
- White collar crimes, such as embezzlement, theft and money laundering
- Telephone marketing schemes
- Misrepresentation of mail order or catalog items
- Pyramid schemes or chain letters
- False insurance claims
- Fraudulent investment schemes
- Misrepresentations in the sale of goods
- Bank fraud
Using the following items for criminal activity, such as purchasing prostitution or illegal pornography:
- Prepaid Cards
- Digital Currency
Frequently, these charges are accompanied by other charges, ranging from conspiracy to money laundering. Due to the broad nature of mail and wire fraud, and the fact that many other crimes may be included under this heading, it is important that you have a lawyer who fully understands the criminal laws that cover this arena. Levin & Curlett will look at all the circumstances surrounding your case including what you intended to do, whether or not any use of any interstate mail carrier or wire communication was made, and whether anyone was in fact defrauded. Further, the firm will assess whether this charge is properly in federal court rather than state court and examine every possible defense in your case.