Posted on July 15, 2016

Mail Fraud | 18 U.S.C. § 1341 | Federal Charges

Federal indictments for mail fraud are typically issued against larger defrauding schemes whereas small defrauding operations are normally handled in civil or criminal litigation court on a state level.  The Congressional purpose of enacting this law was to secure the integrity of the United States Postal Service.

Charged under 18 USC § 1341, mail fraud is the act of furthering a defrauding scheme accomplished by communication through the postal system.[1]  Moreover, the government must prove an underlying scheme to defraud, and a defendant facilitated the scheme utilized the United States Postal Office.

There are a number of fraudulent scheme or enterprises, including telemarketing fraud, phony advertising, insurance swindles, and fraudulent charitable organizations.  Think of these organizations sending advertising correspondence through the U.S. Postal Service in an effort to scam people of their money.

EXAMPLE OF MAIL FRAUD

A defendant operates an illegitimate investment company disguised to accomplish increased revenue to those who invest their retirement money.  The company sends mail notices to elders advertising the chance of increasing revenue by investing their money in the illegitimate investment firm.  Regardless of whether a person actually falls for the scheme, the defendant has committed mail fraud warranting federal charges.  In fact, each mailing constitutes a separate count of mail fraud.[2]  Therefore, it’s common for someone to be indicted of numerous mail fraud charges.

ELEMENTS TO PROVE MAIL FRAUD

To be found guilty of mail fraud, the government holds the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  1. Intent to defraud
  2. The defendant had a scheme to defraud; and
  3. Used the postal service in furtherance of the scheme.

PUNISHMENT & SENTENCING

A conviction for mail fraud carries substantial consequences.  Consequently, the punishment for mail fraud carries up to 20 years in federal prison with a fine up to $1,000,000.  If the fraudulent activity affects a financial institution, the penalty becomes greater with a fine not more than $1,000,000, a prison term of up to 30 years, or both.

CONTACT A FEDERAL CRIMES ATTORNEY

If you’re under investigation or have been indicted on mail fraud charges, there’s no question that retaining an experienced Federal Crimes Lawyer is necessary.  Contact the Law Offices of John D. Rogers for a free consultation concerning your rights and defenses.  Our office handles mail fraud charges in all federal courts nationwide.

 

 

LEGAL FOOTNOTES

[1] 18 U.S.C.  § 1341 provides, “Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises … for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice or attempting so to do, places in any post office or authorized depository for mail matter, any matter or thing whatever to be sent or delivered by the Postal Service, or deposits or causes to be deposited any matter or thing whatever to be sent or delivered by any private or commercial interstate carrier, or takes or receives there from, any such matter or thing … shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both. If the violation affects a financial institution, such person shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned not more than 30 years, or both.”

[2] See United States v. Gardner, 65 F.3d 82, 85 (8th Cir. 1995) (“[I]t is not the plan or scheme that is punished, but rather each individual use of the mails in furtherance of that scheme.”)

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