Mail and Wire Fraud

Mail and Wire Fraud Lawyer in NYC

There are a lot of federal offenses in the United States but not a lot have received greater advancement of criminal possibility than mail fraud and wire fraud. In today’s society where everything can be so easily sent and received through wireless and wired technology, schemes have been created to defraud many individuals. Your legal needs as well as your criminal defense needs could be addressed by our Mail and Wire Fraud Lawyer in NYC. An experienced and skilled mail fraud crime lawyer in New York could mean the difference between your freedom and imprisonment.

If you are being prosecuted for a crime that you know you did not have any hand in, you know what it feels like to have a need that you should address. Your legal needs as well as your defense needs could be addressed by a good mail fraud lawyer.Mail and Wire Fraud

An experienced and skilled mail fraud lawyer could mean the difference between your freedom and imprisonment. There are a lot of technicalities that a good lawyer can help defend you with.

With that, you should get to know what this crime is all about and how you could properly understand it.

The first thing that you should know about is the history that comes with the crimes of wire fraud and mail fraud.

The History Of Mail and Wire Fraud

The Mail Fraud Statute is the first one of the two. The Mail fraud statute emerged in the 19th century. Back then some people were keen on using mail to cheat country folks.

For example, some individuals would send a mail to a country folk and make them believe that they are in love or that they won some sort of prize. This practice or scheme went on to say that the government was forced to intervene.

The government made it criminal to use mail to defraud others and as the penalty increased, the amendments and the prohibition.

By the year 1987, the Supreme Court noted that  “the last substantive amendment to the statute was the codification of the holding of Durland in 1909.” No amendment was made to confirm the existence of mail fraud statute back then. Up to this day, the right to honest services and the right to encompass the use of commercial postal carriers.

Mail and Wire FraudOn the other hand, wire fraud as a federal crime is more recent. It was created back in 1952. As part of the Communications Act Amendments of 1952, it was meant to hold together legislation that would protect everyone from mail fraud and wire fraud.

Today, there have already been many changes to the mail and wire fraud provisions of the United States.

Mail and Wire Fraud Provisions

There are different kinds of mail and wire fraud provisions. Under Federal law, the following the mail and wire fraud provisions that every person should know more about:

U.S. Code Section 1343. Fraud by wire, radio, or television, provides that:

“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 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.”

This provision undergone the following amendments:

The very first change happened in July 11, 1956, where the act substituted “transmitted by means of wire, radio, or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce” for “transmitted by means of interstate wire, radio, or television communication”.

The latest one was in 2008, by Pub. L. 110–179 inserted “occurs in relation to, or involving any benefit Mail and Wire Fraudauthorized, 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” after “If the violation”.

In between is in 2002, Publication No. 107–204 substituted “20 years” for “five years”.

By 1994, Publication No 103–322 substituted “fined under this title” for “fined not more than $1,000”.

In 1990, Publication No. 101–647 substituted “30” for “20” before “years”.

In the year 1989, Pub. L. 101–73 inserted at end “If the violation affects a financial institution, such person shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.”

Elements of Mail and Wire Fraud

In today’s world, mail and wire fraud can be considered as parallel states that penalize almost the same acts. In the following landmark cases, the elements of the two crimes are mostly the same, such as:

  • United States v. Briscoe, 65 F.3d 576, 583 (7th Cir. 1995) (citing United States v. Ames Sintering Co., 927 F.2d 232, 234 (6th Cir. 1990) (per curiam);
  • United States v. Frey, 42 F.3d 795, 797 (3d Cir. 1994) (wire fraud is identical to mail fraud statute except that it speaks of communications transmitted by wire);
  • United States v. Profit, 49 F.3d 404, 406 n. 1 (8th Cir.)

What are these elements exactly? There are around four essential elements of the crime of wire fraud in the case of Manual of Model Criminal Jury Instructions for the District Courts of the Eighth Circuit 6.18.1341 (West 1994), cert. denied, 115 S.Ct. 2289 (1995) and they are the following:

  • that the defendant voluntarily and intentionally devised or participated in a scheme to defraud another out of money;
  • that the defendant did so with the intent to defraud;
  • that it was reasonably foreseeable that interstate wire communications would be used; and
  • that interstate wire communications were in fact used.

In the case of United States v. Hanson, 41 F.3d 580, 583 (10th Cir. 1994), there are two elements that mainly comprise the crime of wire fraud:Mail and Wire Fraud

  • It is a scheme or artifice to defraud; and
  • It uses interstate wire communication to facilitate that scheme.

In the case of United States v. Faulkner, 17 F.3d 745, 771 (5th Cir. 1994), the essential elements of wire fraud are:

  • a scheme to defraud; and
  • the use of, or causing the use of interstate wire communications to execute the scheme.

In the case of United States v. Cassiere, 4 F.3d 1006 (1st Cir. 1993), in order to prove wire fraud government must show the following:

  • The presence of a scheme to defraud by means of false pretenses;
  • The defendant's knowledge and willful participation in scheme with intent to defraud; and
  • the use of interstate wire communications in furtherance of the scheme.

In the case of United States v. Maxwell, 920 F.2d 1028, 1035 (D.C. Cir. 1990), the crime of wire fraud requires proof of the following:

  • a scheme to defraud; and
  • the use of an interstate wire communication to further the scheme.

Construction

Since the elements of the two crimes are essentially the same, the interpretation of one applies to the other and courts would be very specific in the statement of the elements of the violation to focus on the questions as well as the issues before them.

As the treatment of the individual elements are clear, there is often very little dispute that in order to be convicted of the crime, the government is required to prove the use of either mail or wire communications in the foreseeable furtherance of a scheme and intent to defraud another of either property or honest services involving a material deception.

Use of Mail or Wire Communications

The crime of wire fraud applies to all individuals. As long as the purpose is to execute a scheme or artifice, mail fraud is specific. The statute requires that a mailing or wire communication must be used and delivered in order to further the scheme to defraud another individual.

The mailing or communication must be an essential element of the scheme or is incident to an essential element.

Mail and Wire FraudThe best example for this would be the use of an email to defraud individuals to part with their money. The Nigerian Prince scam and the chain mails that go viral are the best examples for this scheme. Many individuals must prove that they are innocent in the scheme or that they are not a part of it. Prosecution on the part of the government is assisted by many aspects that individuals would need a good lawyer to help them out. A good defense lawyer is the answer.

What is a qualifying mail or communication? A qualifying mail or communication could be any kind of communication such as regular mail or electronic mail. The question always lies on whether the mailing is part of the necessary execution of the scheme. It is to be perceived by the perpetrator at the time of the scheme.

The element is already present whenever there is the use of mailings or communications that is “designed to lull the victim into a false sense of security, postpone inquiries or complaints, or make the transaction less suspect.”

The element is also present when the mailings or wire communication is used to obtain the property. The property is considered as the object of the fraud and is a subject that is more often than not the target of many schemes to defraud.

Is there a need to personally mail or wire the communication? No, the defendant need not personally mail or transmit the wire communication. It is enough that the defendant has a means to cause the mailing or the transmission of the wire communication.Mail and Wire Fraud

To properly defend this element, the defendant and his lawyer must be able to prove that he is not part of the scheme to defraud. It is necessary to also prove, if possible, that the defendant is not the one who sent the mail or the wire transmission.

Scheme To Defraud

There is also the element of the wire and mail fraud which provides the necessary information for the scheme to defraud. This requires that the law “both prohibit, in pertinent part, any scheme or artifice to defraud or to obtain money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, or deprive another of the right to honest services by such means.

The statutory construction of this law shows that Congress intended to reach a wide new range of schemes to defraud.

In recent times, the Congress added 18 U.S.C. Section 1346. The Section aims to make it clear that there are many schemes to defraud another of their right to honest service. The words were meant to mean that the term refer to mean any of the following aspects:

  • Wronging one in his property rights by using dishonest methods; and
  • Signifying the deprivation of something of value by trick, deceit, chicane or overreaching.

This new definition is meant to ensure that any kind of wrongdoing that will be done by an individual could be covered by the protection of the statute on wire and mail fraud.

Let us look at the general rule of these scenario: the general rule is that there is the consummation of the crime whenever the scheme is hatched and there is no need to make sure that it becomes a success. The success is when the intended victim parts with his property.

How does this happen? If you receive an email saying that it comes from a Nigerian prince asking for your love and eventually your money, there is already a success and consummation of the crime. The common court ruling is the fact that whenever there is a scheme to defraud any individual, there is already a consummation or perfection of the crime. It only becomes necessary, then, that the defendant’s “communications were reasonably calculated to deceive persons of ordinary prudence and comprehension.”

Mail and Wire FraudIf one would assess the statutes that are related to this scheme, it is necessary for the prosecution to prove that the main intention of the statute is to deceive a naive victim.

The courts have seen, however, that some defense lawyers are puffing their defense. The main question that is often raised by the individual lawyers focus mainly on how the individuals would reach the recipients of their email.

In any event, the defendant must show lack of evil intent for the scheme to defraud and the materiality of the deception done.

Defrauding or to Obtain Money or Property

One of the other main elements of mail and wire fraud is the existence of the scheme to defraud or to obtain money or property. The Supreme Court has said that the phrases “to defraud” and “to obtain money or property” do not represent separate crimes.

The phrase “obtain money or property” describes what constitutes a scheme to defraud. Let us look at an example where this offense takes light.

There is the bank fraud statute. The bank fraud statute applies to whoever knowingly executes a scheme or artifice to defraud a financial institution or to obtain any of the money, funds, credits, assets, securities, or other property owned by a financial institution, by means of false or fraudulent pretenses.

It is obvious that the mail and wire fraud statutes clearly protect against deprivation of tangible property through the scheme of another. They also protect certain intangible property rights. However, the protection is limited only for those that have value in the hands of the victim of a scheme.

In a way, value to the victim is an important aspect of the crime.

Materiality

Materiality is a necessary element for wire and mail fraud. For a misrepresentation to be considered as a concealment of fact tht is material, it must be capable of influencing the intended victim.

Intent

When it comes to intention, the term “intent to defraud” requires an intent to cause some harm to the victim due to the deception done.

Aiding and Abetting, Attempt, and Conspiracy

Under the US Law, there is aiding, abetting, attempting, and a conspiracy to commit the crime of mail and wire fraud whenever the “defendant associates himself with the venture, that he participate in it as in something that he wishes to bring about, that he seek by his action to make it succeed.”

Defenses Available

There are a few defenses available for a crime of wire or mail fraud and they are the following:

  • There is the lack of the “fraudulent intent.” An individual person cannot be convicted of mail fraud just because of a false statement. As stated above, there must be a false statement with a specific intent to cheat someone out of their money or property. There is no criminal intent if the false statements in question are exaggerations or sales advertisements.
  • The statements made were not “knowingly false.” This is also considered as the good faith defense that is available for a defendant. If the individual who sent the mail or the email did not have any idea that the statements made were false, it can be used as a defense.
  • There is also a defense whenever there is a false promise or misrepresentation that was not material to the decision of the individual to part with his money or his property. It is necessary that it is a false statement that led the individual to believe that he should part from his money. There is no material statement if the lie made was not the factor that lead the individual to make a decision.Mail and Wire Fraud
  • There is also a defense whenever the use of mail or wire communications was not in any way related to the fraudulent scheme. The mail communication or wire communication must be necessary to enforce the fraudulent act for its communication.

There is also the defense of the fruit of the poisonous tree. Whenever it is clear that the government evidence was illegally obtained, there is a possible defense.

Violations of the constitutional right against “unreasonable searches and seizures”, violations of the anti-wire tapping law, and violations of constitutional rights are good defenses that could throw out your whole case.

If you think that you have a constitutional right that have been violated, you need a good lawyer to help you defend your right and throw out evidence that should not be presented in court in the first place.

Make sure that you would have a good defense, especially when it comes to your constitutional rights.

Get The Help You Need

At the end of the day, if you are being prosecuted for a wire and mail fraud case in New York, it is important that you get all of the help that you need. Being prosecuted for a crime is one thing but being convicted is another. Make sure that you have all of the important facts and the defenses that you could possibly need.

Mail and Wire FraudYour lawyer should be able to help you find the right defense from the time that you hire him. A plea bargaining deal should always be on the table. Technicality should be handled with great caution as that can also take care of your case. You should also be able to throw out evidence if you have the right lawyer.

Whatever you need, whatever kind of defense is necessary, you should get a lawyer who can help you. It is urgent for individuals to have a good lawyer especially now that mail and wire fraud cases are being built in tight cases.

Contact Us Today

If you need help urgently, we are always here to help. You can go to our office at 464 Ocean parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11218 or call our telephone at: (+1) 347-763-93-96. Contact us today.

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