Mail fraud is certainly one of more prevalent forms of criminal deception, accounting for almost one third of all consumer fraud. Cited as any illegal, fraudulent act utilizing the United States Postal Service, or affiliate mail carrier, mail fraud conviction seeks to improve upon the penalties for the criminal activity, justified by the involvement of and exploitation of the US Postal Service in the crime (regardless of the level of involvement). Mail fraud statutes have even been extended to commercial/private mail carriers.
The US Code states that if those involved in a plan to defraud, deceive, counterfeit, etc., places in any post office or authorized depository for mail matter, uses the Postal Service that person shall be:
- Fined, imprisoned for not more than 20 years, or both.
- If a financial institution is affected, than the penalty is a significant fine of not more than $1,000,000, and imprisonment for not more than 30 years, or both.
- Even if one just uses a fictitious name or address, the offense is punishable by a fine and up to five years in prison.
What is Mail Fraud?
Fraudulent misrepresentations and schemes to defraud which use the United States mail to further that fraudulent conduct, can be prosecuted as “mail fraud.”
The United States Attorney’s Office will seek an Indictment (a charging document formally charging the person with a crime) for mail fraud when the prosecution believes it has evidence of any fraud scheme that uses the mail systems to make that fraud scheme function.
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There is no specific requirement for the type of fraudulent scheme that has to be alleged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, only that there is some kind of fraud or misrepresentation wherein the U.S. mails or commercial carriers are used to mail an item related to the scheme, such as a check, a contract, an application for credit, property valuations, etc.
Originally, the mail fraud statute required some type of use of the U.S. mail; now, the statute requires the use of either the U.S. mail or any mail carrier in an attempt to carry out the fraud.
The United States Code contains federal crimes that are prosecuted by the Department of Justice or its field offices, the United States Attorney’s Offices, in respective districts in the different states. Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341, is titled Frauds and Swindles, and it is commonly referred to as the “mail fraud” statute. Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 1341 reads as follows (in summary):
MAIL FRAUD DEFINITION AND PUNISHMENT
1) having devised, or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud,
2) for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, or to sell, dispose of, loan…
3) something of value or some item…and
4) places in any post office or authorized depository for mail matter
5) any item to be delivered by interstate carrier
shall be fined …or imprisoned for not more than 20 years, or both.
SUCCESSFUL MAIL FRAUD DEFENSE CASE(S)
INVESTIGATION CLOSED / NO INDICTMENT – Federal investigation in the Eastern District of Texas for bank fraud and mail fraud. The United States Attorney’s Office declined in 2006 to seek an Indictment in an investigation of alleged fraud by a travel agency after “9/11” created restricted booking availability abroad. The U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to proceed after defense counsel presentations.
Contact John R. Teakell for a Free Initial Consultation
For a free consultation and case evaluation, contact white collar crime defense lawyer John R. Teakell today. Mr. Teakell is well-known for his successful trial record, numerous television appearances, including on Court TV, and for being named as a Texas Super Lawyer by “Texas Monthly” magazine. Texas Super Lawyers are those lawyers who are named as among the top 5 percent of all Texas lawyers in their area of practice.
If you or a loved one has been accused of alleged mail fraud, contact mail fraud defense attorney John Teakell for your 100% free consultation by submitting your information here.