If you are facing mail fraud charges or you’re under investigation, you need a strong defense strategy and experienced legal representation. While mail fraud may not sound serious, this is a federal charge and one that is frequently prosecuted by U.S. attorneys. This charge carries serious penalties, so you need the right mail fraud attorney in Raleigh to fight aggressively on your behalf.
At Sandman, Finn, & Fitzhugh, we bring both experience and dedication to our clients. With over 60 years of combined experience as both Assistant District Attorneys for Wake County and defending clients in state and federal courtrooms, we have a broad scope of knowledge, experience, and insight that allows us to provide the best defense possible against charges of mail fraud.
Defining Mail Fraud
Mail fraud is a federal crime which occurs when someone uses the U.S. mail or other delivery service, such as UPS or FedEx, to defraud someone. Like wire fraud, mail fraud is one of the most frequently prosecuted crimes in federal courts because it can apply to a multitude of situations and often works in conjunction with other crimes.
To be convicted of mail fraud, the prosecution has to prove that the defendant was using the mail or other delivery service as a vehicle in which to intentionally defraud someone from money, property, “honest services,” or valuable information by misrepresenting or omitting information. Often, mail fraud is the charge leveled against a defendant either in conjunction with other charges, such as securities fraud, identity theft, or even RICO charges. In some cases where the prosecution may not feel they have enough to get a conviction in more complex cases, they will prosecute mail fraud instead.
What makes mail fraud an exceptionally complex charge is the definition of fraud. Courts have not been able to provide a specific definition beyond the one given in United States v. Foshee, in which one judge said, “to defraud is, in less nice language, to cheat.” Additionally, the scheme doesn’t need to have victims, it’s still a crime to attempt to defraud someone.
EXAMPLES OF MAIL FRAUD
- Sending out false collections statements through the in an attempt to defraud someone out of money.
- Distributing counterfeit goods or items via the mail or interstate delivery service.
- Mailing out phony work-at-home opportunities in an attempt to get money, honest services, or personal information about an individual.
- Sending falsified college applications though the mail.
- Falsified investment portfolio information sent through the mail.
- Communications, contracts, or receipts for a fraudulent sale.
“OPERATION VARSITY BLUES” COLLEGE ADMISSION SCANDAL
The high-profile “Operation Varsity Blues” college admissions bribery scandal in 2019 is a recent example of wide-scale mail fraud prosecution by the federal government. In this investigation, it was discovered that exam administrators were bribed to allow cheating on entrance exams, coaches and administrators were bribed to nominate unqualified applicants as elite recruits, and a charitable organization was used to conceal money laundering.
The ring-leader of this scheme was William Rick Singer who was paid over $25 million dollars by 33 parents to bribe testing officials, pay people to take tests for other students, bribe psychologists to certify that students had a learning disability, and transport students to testing facilities where he could fabricate results. Additionally, sports credentials were falsified to include editing photos that showed students playing sports they didn’t actually play.
Eight universities, including Wake Forest, Yale, and Stanford as well as several personnel were implicated, while high-profile parents, including actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman and former president and COO of Wynn Resorts, Gamal Aziz. While not all of those involved have been to trial yet, several have pled guilty.
Because these fraudulent activities and fabricated documents were sent via U.S. mail, over 50 people involved have been charged with mail fraud, conspiracy to commit mail fraud, and “honest services” mail fraud.
Penalties of a Mail Fraud Conviction
Like wire fraud, mail fraud is punishable up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. However, if the defendant was targeting benefits related to a federal disaster or emergency or attempted to defraud a financial institution, the penalties are much more severe, with up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to one million dollars.
Contacting a Mail Fraud Attorney in Raleigh
United States investigators and prosecutors have unlimited resources and the ability to launch aggressive investigations against people they suspect of committing crimes and often use mail fraud to open the door to further charges. You need a mail fraud attorney in Raleigh who will fight on your behalf with the same dedication and tireless focus whether we’re launching our own investigation, interviewing witnesses, creating a legal strategy, or defending you in court.
Whether you are under investigation or have already been charged, you can’t wait any longer to secure representation. To contact our legal team for a federal criminal defense attorney to represent you in the Eastern District and Western District of North Carolina and set up a free consultation, call (919) 887-8040 or fill out our contact form to get started!