- Mail and wire fraud
Mail and wire fraud is a federal crime in the United States. Together, 18 U.S.C. §§ 1341, 1343, and 1346 reach any fraudulent scheme or artifice to intentionally deprive another of property or honest services with a nexus to mail or wire communication.
In the 1960s and '70s, inspectors under regional chief postal inspectors such as Martin McGee, known as "Mr. Mail Fraud," exposed and prosecuted numerous swindles involving land sales, phony advertising practices, insurance ripoffs and fraudulent charitable organizations using mail fraud charges.
- 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, or to sell, dispose of, loan, exchange, alter, give away, distribute, supply, or furnish or procure for unlawful use any counterfeit or spurious coin, obligation, security, or other article, or anything represented to be or intimated or held out to be such counterfeit or spurious article, 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 therefrom, any such matter or thing, or knowingly causes to be delivered by mail or such carrier according to the direction thereon, or at the place at which it is directed to be delivered by the person to whom it is addressed, any such matter or thing, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both. If the violation occurs in relation to, or involving any benefit authorized, transported, transmitted, transferred, disbursed, or paid in connection with, a presidentially declared major disaster or emergency (as those terms are defined in section 102 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5122)), or affects a financial institution, such person shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned not more than 30 years, or both.
- 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, transmits or causes to be transmitted by means of wire, radio, or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce, any writings, signs, signals, pictures, or sounds for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice, 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.
- For the purposes of this chapter, the term “scheme or artifice to defraud” includes a scheme or artifice to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services.
There are three elements to mail and wire fraud:
- A "scheme or artifice to defraud" or the obtaining of property by fraud; and,
- A mail or wire communication.
To be fraudulent, a misrepresentation must be material.
Mail fraud requires that the mailing cross state lines; wire fraud does not require that the wire communication cross state lines.
In McNally v. United States (1987), the Supreme Court held that 18 U.S.C. §§ 1341 and 1343 did not reach "honest services fraud." Congress responded by passing 18 U.S.C. § 1346. In Skilling v. United States (2010), the Court construed § 1346 to apply only to bribes and kickbacks.
Types of fraud Financial Business related Family related Government related Other types
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