Maryland Federal Mail/Wire Fraud Lawyer
Congress, in an effort to keep up with evolving technology in communications, enacted the federal wire fraud statute found in 18 U.S. Code Code 1343. The federal wire fraud statute mirrors the mail fraud statute in prohibiting fraud, deception, or misrepresentation, but expands the provisions to include new and changing wire technology: radio, telephone, and internet, for example. The federal mail and wire fraud statutes provide an easy catch-all for prosecutors. Often, a specific type of fraud with its own statute—health care fraud, for example—can also be prosecuted as mail fraud if the deception were carried out in part through mailing falsified invoices to the benefits provider. A person committing bank fraud could also be charged with wire fraud if loan applications or funds transfers were conducted over the Internet.
Finally, several types of fraud that are not expressly tied to a distinct statute may be prosecuted as mail or wire fraud if no other specific law fits. For this reason it’s important to contact a Maryland federal mail and wire fraud lawyer if you’ve been accused of this type of crime.
Federal Mail and Wire Fraud Penalties
The penalties for mail and wire fraud are severe: up to 20 years in prison, in general. However, if the fraud is committed in connection with a federally declared emergency or a federally insured financial institution, the penalty is enhanced to a maximum of 30 years in prison. In virtually all cases, a person convicted of mail or wire fraud will be ordered to pay restitution and fines. Often, he or she will also face forfeiture of assets.
Prosecution of mail or wire fraud cases is supported by evidence gained from investigation by federal agencies, including the FBI, IRS Criminal Investigations Division (IRS-CID), and U.S. Postal Service Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and its Major Fraud Investigations Division (MFID), to name a few.
During these investigations, your phone records, mail, e-mail, and other communications may be searched for evidence of fraud.
People are wrongfully investigated for and charged with federal mail or wire fraud all the time. Federal criminal lawyers are often useful in communicating with prosecutors and government agents to diffuse situations where one is wrongfully accused or is incorrectly been investigated so that person can avoid being charged altogether.
In order to protect your constitutional rights, it is imperative that you hire an experienced Maryland federal mail and wire fraud lawyer. Your Maryland federal mail and wire fraud attorney can work diligently to preserve your rights while aggressively fighting the allegations against you. If you are ultimately indicted on mail or wire fraud charges, a Maryland federal mail and wire lawyer can launch a strong defense on your behalf.
About Mail Fraud
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service conducts investigations into any type of fraud scheme that utilizes the mail. The agency is not, however, restricted to fraud schemes that originate in USPS mail. If the USPS is used at any time in the perpetration of the fraud, the federal government can bring mail fraud charges.
Types of common mail fraud schemes include the following:
- Chain letters
- Charity fraud
- Credit card fraud
- Employment fraud (mystery shopper, work-at-home, franchise fraud)
- Free prize schemes
- Investment fraud
- Pyramid schemes
- Sweepstakes fraud
This list, however, is far from conclusive. Virtually any act of fraud or deception can be prosecuted as mail fraud if the USPS or any other interstate postal carrier is involved at any point. Mailing a loan application form containing deceptive or fraudulent information for the purpose of defrauding the lender is an example of a white-collar crime that could include mail fraud charges.
About Wire Fraud
Wire fraud is similar to mail fraud, but instead of relying on the U.S. postal service or other mail carrier to transmit fraudulent information, the fraud is carried out in part or in whole via wired communication. “Wired communication” includes television, radio, wire transfer services, and virtually every type of electronic communications device. The federal government gives broad interpretation to the wire fraud statute. This allows U.S. Attorneys to prosecute a great number of fraud cases as wire fraud.
Wire fraud schemes include the following:
- Credit card fraud
- E-mail phishing
- “Masquerading” (taking over the e-mail account of a particular person, organization, or company and purporting to be that entity)
Any of the fraud schemes listed as mail fraud would be charged as wire fraud if they utilized e-mail or another electronic communication instead of postal mail.
Federal Mail/Wire Fraud Defense
In order to win a mail or wire fraud conviction, a prosecutor must prove the following elements:
- The defendant used mail or wire communication to further
- A scheme or plan to defraud
- Through material deception
- With the intent to deprive someone else
- Of property or services.
If any of these elements, such as intent, is absent, your Maryland federal mail and wire fraud lawyer can build a strong case for your defense. To find a federal mail and wire fraud lawyer in Maryland, call to schedule a free consultation.