Federal Mail Fraud – Is This a Common Crime in a Digital World?

Federal Mail Fraud is still a common crime in our digital world. With the growing age of technology and development of the internet, television, phone calls and more, it would be easy to assume that mail fraud schemes would be far less common in the technological era. On the contrary, mail fraud is still a very relevant crime that draws the attention of the U.S. Postal Service to take precautionary measures to examine what is being received and sent out to residences in the United States. According to the USPS alone, 501 arrests were made in 2016 related to federal mail fraud schemes, and 431 of those arrests resulted in charges being filed against the defendant. Of the 431 cases filed, 420 resulted in convictions after the conclusion of the case. While it is evident that federal mail fraud is still a common and relevant crime in this era, there are two specific elements that discern what federal mail fraud is to be recognized by, which are revealed in Schmuck v. United States, 489 U.S. 705, 721 n. 10 (1989) and also Pereira v. United States, 347 U.S. 1, 8 (1954).

  1.  The defendant must have devised or intended to devise a scheme to defraud (or to perform specified fraudulent acts). More clearly, the defendant must have either created or attempted to create a scheme that would defraud another individual of money.
  2. The use of the mail must have been the method for the purpose of executing, or attempting to execute, the scheme (or specified fraudulent acts).  During the course of the fraudulent scheme, the use of mail to carry out the fraudulent activity must have been method of communication between the perpetrator and the victim. In addition, failing to defraud an individual during the course of a scheme, but still making an attempt to do so, is still considered federal mail fraud and would be charged similarly if the fraud was successful. To be charged with federal mail fraud, as long as an attempt to defraud has been made, success of such a scheme is irrelevant.

If the prosecution is able to satisfy both of the elements of federal mail fraud as established by the Supreme Court, the defendant will face a federal felony sentence of up to 5 years in prison and $250,000 in fines if the fraud involved individual people, and up to 30 years in prison and $1,000,000 dollars in fines if the fraud involved a financial institution. Regardless of who the fraud affects, being convicted of a federal mail fraud offense could permanently cripple someone’s life. Having the proper federal defense attorney is crucial to fighting the federal mail fraud charges against someone. Certified Fraud Specialist (CFS) and federal defense attorney, Karren Kenney, has been practicing law for over 20 years and has an expertise in fraud cases. If you, or know someone who is facing fraud charges, contact Karren Kenney at 1(855) 505-5588 and start preparing your defense today!


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