The federal government aggressively pursues fraud cases, using its extensive legal and financial resources to prosecute individuals and businesses. If you are the target of an investigation or have been charged with a federal crime, you should not attempt to challenge this formidable opponent alone.
Our criminal defense team at Konta Georges & Buza P.C. is equipped to challenge federal prosecutors and protect your rights throughout the criminal process. Our lawyers have compiled an impressive record of courtroom successes for a variety of criminal matters, including fraud. We invite you to contact a member of our team to arrange your free consultation today.
Courts throughout the United States have historically been reluctant to rigidly define “fraud.” According to the modern federal jury instructions, human beings are so inventive that they are perpetually capable of inventing new schemes to take advantage of others. The fear is that if fraud is rigidly defined, then someone will simply come up with a new scheme that skirts the actual definition. Then, the person would be found not guilty of that fraud even though his conduct still “feels” like a fraud.
Congress has, for the same reasons, been reticent to define the term. As a result, prosecutors throughout the United States have taken their prosecutions to new levels because, absent a rigid definition, they are capable of calling all sorts of behavior fraudulent.
Perhaps a good definition comes from the Code of Federal Regulations Section 42. There, the term fraud is defined as an internal misrepresentation or deception made by an individual who knows that deception could result in a benefit to themselves or someone else.
This deception, therefore, includes any acts of fraud under state or federal law. It seems that a good way to think about fraud is to think about it in terms of larceny in which the means of stealing the money or property is not by force (like in a robbery), but by deception. It is a trick to get someone to give you their property, but had it not been for that trick, the person would never have given it to you.
If you take the concept of fraud and add certain mechanisms to achieve that fraud, then you could be in violation of the United States law, and you could be facing federal prosecution. For example, if you use the U.S. Postal Service to achieve your fraud, then you are committing mail fraud, which can be punishable by up to 20 years in prison. If you use wire for the transmission of the funds, then you are committing wire fraud, etc. Below are some of the common examples of fraud that the federal government prosecutes.
Mail fraud is defined by 18 U.S.C. 1341. Mail fraud essentially occurs when a person uses the U.S. Postal Service to effectuate a fraud. For example, if a person uses the mail system to advertise a new stock that the mail recipients should purchase, but it turns out that the stock is really a part of a Ponzi scheme, then the person is committing, among other things, mail fraud. Mail fraud is a very serious crime and is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. If mail fraud affects a financial institution, then it is punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
For the government to prevail in their prosecution against someone for mail fraud, they need to prove the following three elements.
They need to prove:
If the government can prove these three elements, then they can prevail in their prosecution for mail fraud. However, there are defenses to these charges. If you or a loved one is being prosecuted for mail fraud, feel free to contact John Buza, an experienced white collar crimes lawyer in Manhattan, for a free consultation.
Wire fraud is very similar to mail fraud. Wire fraud regulations stem from ever-changing technology. Wire fraud is basically the same as mail fraud, but rather than using the U.S. Postal System to effectuate the fraud, a person is guilty of wire fraud when they use an interstate wire, radio or television to effectuate the fraud. Wire fraud is defined by 18 U.S.C. 1343. Wire fraud is a very serious crime and is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. If the wire fraud affects a financial institution, then it is punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
For the government to prevail in their prosecution against someone for wire fraud, it needs to prove the following three elements.
They need to prove:
The important thing to remember is that the government does not need to prove that the wire communication itself was the means by which the goal of the fraud was effectuated. Rather, to be guilty of wire fraud, the government merely needs to prove that an interstate wire communication was used at some point during the scheme or plan.
Bank fraud is defined by 18 U.S.C. 1344. Bank fraud essentially occurs when a person, group or any other entity effectuates a fraud against a bank or any other federally insured financial institution. Bank fraud is a very serious crime and is punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
For the government to prevail in its prosecution against someone for bank fraud, it needs to prove the following four elements.
The government needs to prove:
If the government can prove these four elements, then it can prevail in its prosecution for bank fraud. The important thing to remember when it comes to bank fraud is that the misrepresentation has to be material. The misrepresentation or concealment is legally considered material if it has a natural tendency to influence or is capable of influencing the decision of a person of ordinary prudence and comprehension.
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