Federal fraud charges cover an especially wide range of activities. What they all have in common is that each involves deceptions created intentionally for profit or gain. To prove a federal fraud crime took place, prosecutors must show that the defendant knowingly deceived the plaintiff so they could illegally profit from the plaintiff’s loss. The loss does not have to actually occur for a defendant to be convicted, it is the intent to defraud that is the core of this violation.
While a company is usually the target of a federal fraud investigation, its employees can also be charged individually for violating federal laws. Although fraud can be committed in almost every business, some industries present an even greater potential and these are heavily regulated by the federal government.
Types Of Federal Fraud
Some common types of federal fraud include:
- Mail fraud
- Wire fraud
- Internet fraud
- Credit card fraud
- Check fraud
- Accounting fraud
- Bank fraud
- Bankruptcy fraud
- Customs fraud
- Immigration fraud
- Insurance fraud
- Health care fraud
- Social Security fraud
- Tax fraud
- Real estate fraud
Often federal fraud involves falsifying documents that are submitted to a U.S. agency, for example filing a federal return under a false identity to fraudulently obtain a refund.
If you are convicted of a federal fraud violation, you risk years in prison and heavy fines.
Mail And Wire Fraud
Two of the most common federal fraud charges are mail and wire fraud. Mail fraud involves using the U.S. Postal Service to deceive people into giving you money or property, and wire fraud involves using the Internet, the phone or other electronic communication for the same purpose.
Among the schemes that are most often carried out using mail or electronic means are real estate fraud, Ponzi schemes, and pyramid schemes.
To prove mail or wire fraud, prosecutors must show the defendant took part in creating a deception, had the intent to defraud another party, and used the mail or wire to further that scheme.
Prosecutors frequently file mail or wire fraud charges in addition to other fraud charges.
Each individual mail or wire communication is a separate count. For example, if someone sent 50 emails about a nonexistent vacation house they were offering to rent fraudulently, they could receive 50 separate counts of wire fraud.
Mail And Wire Fraud Penalties
If you are convicted of mail fraud or wire fraud, you can be sentenced to as many as 20 years in a federal penitentiary and/or a large fine.
If the fraud affects a bank or other financial institutions’ solvency you can be sent to prison for 30 years and be fined $1,000,000.
Hiring a Pittsburgh Federal Fraud Lawyer
If you learn you are the subject of a federal investigation, it is critical that you hire a federal attorney immediately. Expect that the evidence gathered by federal investigators before an indictment is filed, will be very extensive. If you are detained as part of the criminal charges, a judge will determine if you are eligible for a bond. Often this eligibility depends on whether or not the government believes you to be a flight risk. When you meet with your lawyer, tell them everything that happened both before and during your arrest. Your attorney will make discovery requests to obtain items such as phone tap recordings, lab reports, and law enforcement reports. They will go over this information carefully to find anything inaccurate or inconsistent that can strengthen your case.