Mail Fraud & Wire Fraud

Mail fraud is a federal crime that involves the use of the U.S. mails across state lines, such as the U.S. Postal Service or private interstate carriers, as part of the scheme to defraud another. The FBI or U.S. Postal Inspectors typically investigate such crimes. Similarly, the crime of wire fraud prohibits the use interstate wires, such as telephone, fax, or e-mail, in furtherance of a scheme to defraud another of money or property.

Fraudulent schemes include Mortgage Fraud, Investment Fraud, Internet fraud, "Ponzi" schemes, or tax evasion. The government must prove a scheme to defraud that includes deception on the part of the accused and that the defendant had the specific intent to defraud. Merely because someone loses money does not mean a crime has been committed. The government must prove that the accused caused the loss and did so through dishonest means and intending to cheat or mislead.

Communication by mail or electronics need not be an essential part of the fraud to constitute mail or wire fraud. For example, one phone call or mailing can lead to a criminal charge. Also, an individual does not have to be directly involved in the mailing or use of the wires; merely causing another to mail or wire funds can result in wire or mail fraud charges. Each act of mailing or electronic communication can be charged as a separate crime.