Mail and Wire Fraud – What is This Offense?

Illinois defense attorney, federal crimes, Illinois criminal lawyer,Two individuals were recently convicted of mail and wire fraud in the southern district of Illinois after pleading guilty to the offense. By pleading guilty to the offense, both men avoided a trial on these charges. While many who hear the charge “mail and wire fraud” rightly assume that the charges are serious, describing exactly what constitutes mail and wire fraud is a more difficult task.

Two Examples of Mail and Wire Fraud

The two individuals who recently pled guilty in Illinois serve as examples of what can constitute mail and wire fraud. The first man operated a scheme headquartered in Orlando, Florida, and involved telemarketers for the defendant’s various companies calling timeshare owners. The telemarketers would falsely represent to the owners that they knew of individuals interested in buying the timeshare properties and then demand that the owners front a certain amount of money for closing costs, which the telemarketers claimed would be refunded to them. Instead, however, the defendant and his cohorts simply pocketed the closing costs without selling a single timeshare.

In the second case, the defendant worked for a foreign company that attempted to induce U.S.-based businesses to sign forms they were led to believe were for free listings in particular trade shows. Instead, the forms were for expensive listings in a “worthless” internet directory.

So What Then is “Mail and Wire Fraud”?

From these examples, a person can understand that the crime of mail and wire fraud to include three essential elements:

  • Intent to defraud another;
  • A “scheme or artifice to defraud” or a plan to obtain the property of another (including money) by defrauding another; and
  • The use of mail or wire communications (like the U.S. mail service or a radio or television service) to carry out the scheme or plan. Other “mail or wire communications” can include letters, emails, telephone calls, or even text messages.

Mail and wire fraud is a serious crime and defendants are often faced with several mail and wire fraud charges (as many frauds and schemes involve more than one victim). At the very least, one conviction for mail and wire fraud can result in up to five years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines. If the mail or wire fraud scheme was perpetrated against a bank or other similar institution, then the possible penalties can increase.

How to Defend Against a Mail or Wire Fraud Charge

A person charged with mail and wire fraud is in serious trouble and should consult with an experienced federal criminal defense attorney right away. A defendant may escape a conviction if it is shown that the defendant did not use interstate mail or wire communications, did not in fact to attempt to defraud another out of property, or acted without an intent to defraud. The Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel LLC, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney can analyze the facts of your case and come up with a winning defense strategy. Contact Hal M. Garfinkel, an experienced Chicago federal criminal defense attorney today at 312-270-0999.

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