What‌ ‌Is‌ ‌Mail‌ ‌and‌ ‌Wire‌ ‌Fraud?‌

Learn all about mail and wire fraud from the criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Robert J. DeGroot. Our team of experts has nearly fifty years of experience in protecting the constitutional rights of citizens in the greater New Jersey area. We’re here to help you understand the law, your options should you or a loved one be accused of a crime, and provide you the vigorous defense that you deserve. Need help now? Contact us today for your confidential consultation!

A real-life tale of wire fraud

In October of 2020, a Mays Landing, New Jersey man was officially sentenced to over three years in prison and three years of supervised release after being found guilty of wire fraud. 

In addition to prison time and supervised release, the man was also responsible for paying approximately $150,000 in restitution to the Dakota Nations Gaming Enterprise. 

So, what exactly did the man do? Well, according to authorities, back in 2014, the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Tribal Council gave the Dakota Magic Casino authorization to purchase new lawn maintenance equipment.  Shortly after this approval was given, the New Jersey man submitted a proposal to the Dakota Nation Gaming Enterprise, the governing body that oversees all gaming operations on the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Reservation, including those at Dakota Magic Casino. 

The submitted proposal for lawn maintenance equipment by the New Jersey man was an offer to provide refurbished lawn maintenance equipment to be delivered to the casino within four to six weeks after ordering. After the Dakota Nation Gaming Enterprise agreed to the proposal, they sent the company the New Jersey man claimed to represent a check for $149,6000 for full payment of the equipment. 

The check was received and deposited, but not to the company the Dakota Nation Gaming Enterprise sent it to. Rather, the New Jersey man cashed the check and used the funds for his own purposes. The equipment was never delivered. The money was never refunded. 

Because this crime occurred across state lines, it was considered a federal crime, and an investigation took place by the FBI before the New Jersey man was ultimately charged, he entered a guilty plea, and was convicted as described above. A classic case of wire fraud.    

Mail and wire fraud — what is the difference?

In a nutshell, both mail and wire fraud can be described as causing intentional deception to produce an unlawful gain, the latter of which could be monetary, property or otherwise. The distinction here is how these types of fraud are conducted. 

Mail and wire fraud typically involve the transfer of something — usually money — either electronically or through the mailing system. These types of fraud can either be considered state or federal crimes (or both) depending on whether or not the transfer crosses state or international lines. 

Essentially, if a scam is knowingly conducted using the U.S. Postal system or other private mail delivery systems, then it is considered mail fraud. 

If a scam or fraudulent activity is knowingly conducted through the use of electronic systems, including banking systems, email, text messaging, other internet-based tools, or even television or radio, then legal authorities categorize this type of fraud as wire fraud. 

How does the law punish mail and wire fraud?

Though there are always nuances when it comes to fines and sentencing, the current standard for mail fraud states those who have knowingly participated in acts of mail fraud can be sentenced with up to twenty years in prison, and should those acts have taken place during major disasters or emergencies (as declared by the President), then punishments increase to as many as thirty years in prison and up to $1MM in fines.  

Punishment for wire fraud is similar, with up to twenty years in prison, and should the fraudulent activity have occurred involving a bank, credit union, or other financial institution, then prison time can amount to up to thirty years and $1MM in fines.

In either case, fines can be hefty as can prison time. In the event that you are suspected or charged with activities related to wire or mail fraud, you need a sound legal defense!

What do I do if I’ve been accused of mail or wire fraud?

As you may have noticed above, it is the responsibility of prosecutors to prove intent of a crime like mail or wire fraud, and this is precisely why it is so important to secure legal counsel when you’ve been accused or charged with a crime. 

The prosecution team must, without reasonable doubt, provide evidence that you or the accused has taken part in a scheme or a fraudulent activity with the intent to deceive another party through some material deception that includes the use of either mail, wire, or electronics communication or delivery systems. 

You deserve experienced, effective legal counsel

Experienced criminal defense attorneys, like those at the Law Offices of Robert J. DeGroot, will do all they can to help you navigate the intricacies of the United States legal system in an effort to protect your rights, protect the privacy of your loved ones, and help create the best possible outcomes based on the circumstances you’re facing. 

People facing criminal charges choose the Law Offices of Robert J. DeGroot because we have a near-half century of experience in protecting people’s constitutional rights. If you or someone you love is facing criminal charges related mail fraud, wire fraud, or other white collar crimes, then call us today — your freedom hangs in the balance!