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Comparing Mail and Wire Fraud
posted on 10/31/23

Mail fraud and wire fraud are two different crimes, with wire fraud encompassing a broad number of different acts. To get a better understanding of what constitutes mail fraud and wire fraud, our Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Glasgow & Olsson explain more below.

Mail Fraud

To be convicted of mail fraud, the U.S. mail must be used in furtherance of a criminal act. 18 U.S. Code § 1341 covers mail fraud, and the following elements must be satisfied in order to charge a person under the statute:

  • Devising a scheme to defraud.
  • Mailing a letter for the purpose of scheme execution.

Interestingly, it is not necessary for the mail to actually cross state lines to be covered under the statute. And, whether the mail is delivered by the United States Postal Service (USPS), a private mail carrier like FedEx, or even a commercial interstate mail carrier, the mail–again, not having to cross state lines–is still an interstate commerce instrument and therefore the aforementioned code applies.

Wire Fraud – 18 U.S. Code § 1343

Some may think that wire fraud only applies to the actual practice of wiring funds through banks, but this is not true. The term “wire,” under federal law, refers to any telecommunication process that could include messages on TV, radio, and through internet platforms.

Telecommunication is considered interstate commerce since it technically travels over airwaves. That includes emails, texts, and even social media posts and labels them as instruments of interstate commerce.

Wire fraud can include:

  • Making false statements.
  • Selling items under false pretenses.
  • Misrepresentation.
  • Tax fraud through the use of misrepresented tax forms.
  • Securities schemes.
  • Health care rackets.
  • Identity theft.
  • Online phishing schemes.
  • Fraud by telemarketing.

Working With Others

If there is an established agreement by at least two people to commit mail fraud or wire fraud, and there is also the intent to move forward with the crime, conspiracy to commit wire or mail fraud can result. This is true even if the individuals who agreed to engage in the unlawful acts never actually go through with them.

Illegal Actions Can Have Devastating Consequences

Sometimes, individuals attempt illegal activities just to see what might happen. A simple act like taking some spare parts at work and making a pair of sunglasses sometimes leads to a more complex enterprise. 

Employees may think that they are underpaid and are merely giving themselves a raise. Or, the idea of owning their own little business might be fulfilling. Employees might feel that they are “getting back” at an obstinate or difficult boss. Sometimes, a little illegal experiment just turns into something bigger.

Get Legal Help

If you have engaged in any criminal activity and are worried about the consequences, do not hesitate to seek qualified legal assistance. If you need representation for a criminal charge in Cook County, Glasgow & Olsson is uniquely qualified to help. When you need a Schaumberg criminal defense attorney, experience matters, contact Glasgow & Olsson today to learn how the firm’s experience can get you the results you deserve.