Federal Mail Fraud Defense Lawyers
Fighting Against Allegations of Mail Fraud in Federal Criminal Court
Many federal criminal laws are broad, meaning they can apply to a wide range of criminal activities. Trust us when we say that federal prosecutors will use this broadness to their advantage to issue charges and seek federal criminal convictions. One such law is the federal mail fraud statute, which results in charges against defendants in a wide range of situations.
Mail fraud laws can apply to any fraud-related offense that uses or involves the United States Postal Service (USPS) or a privately-owned interstate mail service. Whenever federal prosecutors believe that the mail was a tool in a criminal scheme, they will likely tack on this charge. While many people think using the mail to commit a crime should not constitute a serious issue, mail fraud convictions can come with severe penalties in addition to any other criminal charges you may face. Mail fraud charges may also lead to RICO allegations under certain circumstances.
If you face mail fraud charges or any other type of federal criminal charge, hire an aggressive federal defense lawyer to work on your case. At Koffsky & Felsen, LLC, we know how serious mail fraud charges can be, and we understand how to build a strong defense against such charges. Contact us today.
Federal Mail Fraud Cases
Federal law makes it illegal for anyone to use the USPS or another type of interstate mail carrier to help commit offenses that defraud others for wrongful gain using false misrepresentations. As you can imagine, fraud schemes come in many forms, many of which use mail or delivery services. Some examples of common mail fraud schemes include:
- Fraudulent solicitations - These schemes present fraudulent terms or promises to people to solicit money from them. A solicitation scheme may make promises of credit cards or low-cost health coverage for fees paid in advance, while others may seek money to enter contests, sweepstakes, or to qualify for cash prizes. Some solicitation schemes promise ways to get rich quick or too-good-to-be-true work-from-home opportunities. A person may receive the solicitation through the mail, then send money back through the mail, never receive anything in return.
- Mail-order fraud - This involves sending people catalogs or order forms for items. When people send back the order form with the payment, they either receive something worth much less than they expected, a defective item, or nothing at all.
- Pyramid or Ponzi schemes - A person may receive a chain letter or similar communication that requests that they send money to certain named individuals and forward the letter on to more people. The person who originated the scam may receive numerous payments while people at the bottom of the pyramid never receive anything.
- Corporate offenses - Many fraud crimes originate within corporations, from money laundering to embezzlement and many more. Many of these schemes use the mail in some way to achieve the end-goal.
- Various fraud crimes - Some people send out letters that pretend to be from an official government source, such as the IRS, or from a trusted financial institution. When unsuspecting recipients respond with personal or financial information, perpetrators can use the information for insurance fraud, bank fraud, or other forms of identity theft.
Normally, theft and fraud cases are state crimes, but the use of mail to promote the fraud is what gives federal authorities jurisdiction to bring charges. Any type of fraudulent scheme that uses the mail can be charged. In a nationwide case publicized in March 2019, federal authorities indicted many celebrities, wealthy parents, college employees, and college placement professionals in an admissions fraud scheme. Prosecutors alleged that numerous people mailed checks intended for bribery, money laundering, or other criminal purposes to wrongfully gain college admission for their children. Many mail fraud charges resulted.
Mail Fraud Penalties and Defenses
A federal mail fraud conviction can result in a federal prison sentence of 20 years, as well as costly fines. A specific sentence will depend on the complexity and type of fraud crime, along with any financial harm that resulted. Fraud schemes involving financial institutions or federal disaster relief can result in prison sentences of 30 years. The mail fraud penalties come in addition to the penalties for any other convictions.
Because federal mail fraud penalties are often quite serious, you need the right defense team on your side. You can be sure that prosecutors will aggressively seek convictions, so you need a lawyer who will mount an aggressive defense on your behalf. Defense strategies will, of course, vary from situation to situation, though some common defenses include:
- You had no intent to defraud anyone - A conviction of mail fraud requires a prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you had the knowing intent to commit fraud. If you unintentionally made a fraudulent statement or misrepresentation through the mail, it is not enough to constitute criminal mail fraud.
- The misrepresentations involved weren’t material - Mail fraud must involve some type of material misrepresentation. This means that a reasonable person or the specific recipient would give weight to your misrepresentation to induce them to send money or take other action. Minor misrepresentations that do not persuade someone to act should not constitute mail fraud.
While mail fraud laws are broad, a prosecutor still needs to prove specific elements of the charge. You need an experienced defense attorney who can challenge the prosecutor’s evidence and demonstrate when you acted in good faith instead of with fraudulent intent. Our lawyers can also defend against any other accompanying federal fraud charges.
Contact Our Experienced Federal Mail Fraud Defense Attorneys Right Away
Always take mail fraud seriously, along with any federal criminal allegations. If you are under investigation or if a prosecutor issued charges, contact Koffsky & Felsen, LLC as soon as you possibly can. Our experienced federal defense lawyers handle complicated cases in federal and state court, so call (203) 327-1500 or contact us online to discuss how we may be able to help you.