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Understanding the elements of mail fraud

Fraud charges can be either federal or state, but when the charges are related to mail fraud, then federal charges can ensue. Atlanta residents may have heard the tem mail fraud many times but do not completely understand what it is and why it is a federal crime.

First of all, mail fraud takes place when U.S. mail is used in order to further a crime. It does not matter if the alleged scheme originated over the phone, mail or the Internet. Since the alleged scheme uses U.S. mail, it becomes mail fraud. And since it involves a government entity, it becomes a federal charge and is covered in the United States Code-18 U.S.C. 1341 to be exact.

In order for the prosecution to prove that mail fraud has taken place, they must prove a few elements. They must prove that the accused took part in the crime in order to defraud the supposed victim and the scheme itself contained misstatements or omissions that were material. In addition to this, it must be proven that money, property or honest services would have been lost if the scheme was completed or that it was lost when the scheme was completed. And since the crime involves mail, it must be shown that U.S. mail was used to further the scheme.

Proving these elements is an essential part of the prosecution's case and if they are unable to do so, the accused may be acquitted of the crime. An experienced defense attorney may be able to assist the accused in preparing an aggressive defense attacking various parts of the prosecution's case to achieve that goal.

Source: Legal Information Institute, "Mail Fraud," Accessed January 27, 2015

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Nick Lotito & Seth Kirschenbaum

Former Federal Prosecutors

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