Written by attorney Corey Ira Cohen

Mail and Wire Fraud

o Mail Fraud: This is any scheme to defraud someone, even if unsuccessful, where the U.S. Postal Service or any interstate carrier is used to commit the crime.

o Wire Fraud: Similar to mail fraud, wire fraud is a scheme to defraud someone, except use of any sort of electronic communications (Internet, television, radio, and telemarketing) subjects you to criminal prosecution.

To prove mail fraud, 18 U.S.C. ? 1341, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant (1) intentionally participated in a scheme or artifice to defraud and (2) used the United States mails to carry out that scheme or artifice. A "scheme or artifice to defraud" element of the mail fraud statute requires proof of material misrepresentations, or the omission or concealment of material facts, reasonably calculated to deceive persons of ordinary prudence. Thus, not all misrepresentations or omissions raise to the level of a scheme to defraud under the federal fraud statutes. Rather, only material misrepresentations or omissions which a person of ordinary prudence would rely on in making a decision is covered by the fraud statutes. "Puffery, for example, is not part of a scheme to defraud because a person of ordinary prudence would not rely on it . . ." However, proof of actual reliance by the purported victim on the alleged misrepresentations of a defendant is not required to prove fraud.

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