Mail Fraud Attorney San Diego

Are You Being Investigated by the FBI for Mail Fraud? If so, We’re Here to Protect You.

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Mail Fraud Lawyer San Diego

Due to the changing technology and the advent of the internet, fraudulent schemes involving communication have expanded and shifted over the years. The federal code now covers countless types of fraud. One of the most common ones is mail fraud.

Mail fraud is a criminal offense involving the use of interstate communication, usually the United States Postal Service (USPS), to defraud or attempt to defraud another person of something of value through trickery or deception. This type of fraud may seem limited, but from the statute, prosecutors can charge a wide variety of activities under mail fraud. Besides, the financial impact of mail fraud makes it one of the most aggressively pursued cases. Often, this can lead to rushed judgment by the federal authorities.

If you are going through a mail fraud investigation, it is best to secure an attorney for legal counsel. A professional attorney can review your case, advice you based on how strong the government case is, and help you defend yourself against any federal charges.

Definition of a mail fraud   

As the name indicates, mail fraud can be defined as a deceptive, fraudulent scheme involving using the U.S mail to defraud someone of their money or property intentionally. The United States government, under federal code 18 U.S.C. § 1341, considers mail fraud as “sending or receiving of materials related to a crime of fraud.”

Put simply, a mail fraud federal case involves a person making deceptive representations with the intent to defraud another via the mail system.

Additionally, it is crucial to note that the use of mail need only be minor to relate it to the crime. That means the entire fraud crime doesn’t have to be completed in the mail system. As long as the defendant used the mail as part of the scheme, the jury can charge them with mail fraud.

Elements of federal mail fraud offense

For the federal authorities to convict a defendant of mail fraud, the prosecutor has to prove the defendant made materially deceptive promises or representations intentionally intending to defraud another through the mail.

Put simply, the federal prosecutor must prove the following three elements beyond any reasonable doubt:

  • The use of a scheme to commit fraud;
  • The use of mail to further or advance the fraud; and
  • The intention to commit a mail fraud

The federal statute also considers using a fictitious address or name for a fraudulent scheme as part of mail fraud.

Fraudulent scheme

All mail fraud cases are based on a fraudulent scheme involving deception or material misrepresentation of details and facts.

A fraudulent scheme often includes a material misrepresentation of critical information related to a particular transaction. The misrepresentation must be able to trick or deceive someone with ordinary prudence. If the misrepresentation is so preposterous that no reasonable person could fall for the deceit, then it would not satisfy this mail fraud element.

It’s also important to remember that a material misrepresentation does not only involve a lie. A fraudulent scheme can occur when a person withholds vital information with the intent to commit fraud. In addition, merely attempting a mail fraud act violates the statute. The federal authorities can establish mail fraud charges even if the fraudulent scheme is unsuccessful.

The necessary intent

Mail fraud never happens by accident or due to a simple mistake. It is a specific intent crime. Therefore, the intent is a crucial part of mail fraud. For a conviction, the prosecutor must prove the defendant’s intent to deceive another person or knowingly participate in the fraudulent scheme.

If you inadvertently participated in the fraudulent scheme without the intent to commit a crime, your case could be simpler, and you may even avoid a conviction during the trial. For instance, the prosecutor cannot convict you if you were sent by someone else to deliver a piece of mail without knowing it was part of a fraudulent scheme.

Proving a lack of intent to the prosecutor can be challenging. Your attorney can build a case based on the defense that you were unaware of the crime and didn’t intend to join in the scheme, but the federal prosecutor might see things differently. Seeking legal help from an experienced criminal defense attorney is the safest way to ensure your intentions are aggressively demonstrated to the jury.

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Federal mail fraud cases

The federal statute states that it’s illegal for someone to use any interstate mail carrier like USPS to commit defrauding offenses using material misrepresentations. Of course, mail fraud schemes occur in various forms. Here are some examples of common federal mail fraud scheme offenses:

  • Mail-order scheme– This fraudulent scheme involves sending catalogs or item order forms. Once people make payments, they either get a defective item, an item worth much less, or no item at all.
  • Fraudulent solicitation schemes– These present false promises or terms to solicit people of their money. A fraudulent solicitation scheme includes promises of low-cost health cover when one pays fees in advance, ways to get rich quickly, attractive job opportunities, etc. Solicitation schemes can be sent through the mail, making it mail fraud.
  • Corporate mail fraud-From embezzlement to money laundering and more, many fraudulent schemes or crimes start from within corporations via mail.
  •  Pyramid schemes– Also known as Ponzi schemes, pyramid fraud involves a person receiving a sending out a communication, like a chain letter, requesting people to send money to particular named individuals and then forward it to others. Whoever started the fraud may receive several payments without delivering anything.

In addition, some people can send out letters lying that it is from an official, trusted government source or a credible financial institution. The perpetrators then use individuals’ personal or official information from various responses to commit fraud crimes such as bank fraud, insurance fraud, or identity theft.

The federal authorities have the jurisdiction to charge any type of fraud that uses mail to advance the crime. Mail frauds are one of the most prevalent federal crimes. In March 2019, a nationwide case was publicized where federal authorities and prosecutors indicted several wealthy parents, celebrities, and college employees. Since the allegations involved numerous individuals mailing checks with the intent of money laundering, bribery, and other criminal intentions to obtain college admission wrongfully, mail fraud charges were applied.

Mail fraud penalties and defenses

Mail fraud penalties greatly depend on the specific fraud situation, including the intended victim and the value of the fraud. If you are convicted, you’ll be charged with a hefty fine at the very least. Mail fraud cases also involve additional charges, which may carry extra penalties. However, you can also face jail time for up to 20 years or both.

Penalties for complex mail fraud crimes such as fraud involving a financial institution or connected to a federal disaster or government declared emergency may incur additional harsh penalties and a prison sentence of up to 30 years.

The best way to avoid or reduce harsh fraud penalties is to work with an expert defense attorney with experience in federal criminal defense. Your attorney will defend your case and, if necessary, negotiate for mild charges or reduce the sentence, especially if it is your first offense.

When your attorney reviews your case, they must consider all potential defenses that may apply. There are several viable defenses, but the strongest ones originate from the statute, including:

  • You were not aware of the fraud– Often, fraud schemes involve more than one actor. A defendant could be acting under the direction of another individual without being aware of the scheme. Your attorney can show that you were unknowingly participating in a scheme to avoid a conviction.
  • You had no intention to commit fraud– As already mentioned, criminal intent is critical for a mail fraud conviction during a trial. If you can establish a lack of intent to commit fraud, such as making a fraudulent misrepresentation unintentionally through the mail, there could be a lack of enough evidence to constitute criminal mail fraud.
  • Immaterial misrepresentations– Mail fraud always involve some level of material misrepresentation. The misrepresentation should be enough to induce a reasonable person to take action like sending money. Minor or outlandish misrepresentations that would not deceive someone into acting may not constitute mail fraud.

Since federal mail fraud penalties can be quite serious and prosecutors often seek convictions aggressively, it’s essential to secure the right defense team who can equally mount an aggressive fight in your defense. Defense approaches will vary depending on the situation.

While mail fraud statutes are broad, federal prosecutors must still prove all the mail fraud charge elements. An experienced criminal defense attorney can challenge the federal authorities’ evidence and establish that your intentions were not fraudulent. Our expert lawyers also specialize in defense cases against any other federal charges.

Mail Fraud

Contact Superior Law Center for Experienced Legal Help

Mail fraud federal cases are usually complex, and building a successful defense can take time. Sometimes, federal prosecutors build their cases against the victim for several months, even years, before taking action. Therefore it’s crucial to seek the legal services of professional and experienced lawyers immediately to try and fight all that is stacked against you.

The expert team at Superior Law Center has built a spotless reputation as one of Sad Diego’s criminal defense attorneys. The lawyers have extensive experience dealing with the federal court and are willing and prepared to defend your interests aggressively. Contact us for a free consultation of your case.