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Mail and Wire Fraud

15 January, 2016 - 09:31

Federal law prohibits the use of the mails or any interstate electronic communications medium for the purpose of furthering a “scheme or artifice to defraud.” The statute is broad, and it is relatively easy for prosecutors to prove a violation. The law also bans attempts to defraud, so the prosecutor need not show that the scheme worked or that anyone suffered any losses. “Fraud” is broadly construed: anyone who uses the mails or telephone to defraud anyone else of virtually anything, not just of money, can be convicted under the law. In one case, a state governor was convicted of mail fraud when he took bribes to influence the setting of racing dates. The court’s theory was that he defrauded the citizenry of its right to his “honest and faithful services” as governor. 1