Federal fraud crimes typically include three main offenses. These are mail fraud, wire fraud, and bank fraud. While the crimes are somewhat similar, they each have their own unique elements.
MAIL FRAUD UNDER FEDERAL LAW
Mail fraud describes a scheme or fraudulent activity that’s carried out with the use of the United States mail, or any other interstate mail carrier. Therefore, to prove that a person is guilty of mail fraud, a prosecutor must show that: (1) a person used a scheme to defraud others; (2) the person made statements or omissions that had a tendency to influence another person to part with money or property; (3) the person acted with the intent to deceive or cheat; and, (4) used the mail to carry out that scheme. Victims of mail fraud include individuals, banks, the government, and businesses. The crime of mail fraud is a federal offense.
WIRE FRAUD UNDER FEDERAL LAW
Wire fraud can get a little complicated and involves some tricky legal concepts. It’s a crime that is like mail fraud but involves communication over wires instead of through the mail. In general, it involves a scheme to defraud that’s carried out with the use of electronic communications, such as: the telephone, computers, internet, cell phones and interstate wires. The crime is often broken down into four elements and a prosecutor must prove all four to convict a person of the crime. These elements are: (1) a person created or joined a scheme to defraud an entity for financial gain; (2) the scheme was carried out to defraud others; (3) the person had reasonable knowledge that wire communications were necessary to complete the fraud; and, (4) interstate or foreign wire communications were used for the fraud. Like mail fraud, wire fraud is a federal offense.
BANK FRAUD UNDER FEDERAL LAW
Bank fraud generally means any scheme or plan to defraud a bank or other financial institution. Committing fraud against a bank basically means a person uses deceit, dishonesty, or some form of trickery to obtain money, credit, security, or any other asset. Bank fraud can be as simple as a person depositing a forged check. The crime can also involve very complicated schemes and complex transactions.
PENALTIES FOR FEDERAL FRAUD CRIMES
Mail, wire and bank fraud charges are very serious and, if successfully proven, they can lead to life-changing penalties. Some of these include:
- Substantial jail time – potentially decades behind bars
- Significant fines
- Restitution, or the return of money
The specific type and severity of penalty will often depend on the facts of a given case. Penalties grow harsher with the complexity of schemes and the dollar amounts involved.
DEFENSES FOR FEDERAL FRAUD CHARGES
A person charged with fraud at the federal level is not without hope. Legal defenses to these crimes do exist. For example, fraud charges can get dismissed or reduced upon a showing that the government failed in its investigation. “Failure” here means that the government did not gather enough facts to prove its case, or it violated procedural rules in its collection of evidence. Further, a defense can always be raised if federal prosecutors do not have enough evidence to prove every single element of a fraud charge. Often, it can be difficult for prosecutors to prove fraudulent intent with these crimes.
No matter the defense used, however, please know that it will require a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney to challenge fraud charges. The fraud attorneys at Black Law have the skill and experience you’re looking for. They have over two decades of combined experience defending clients on fraud charges. They are smart in their work and passionate in their representation. Contact them today and get the assistance you deserve.
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