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What is wire and mail fraud?

The often-complex elements of mail or wire fraud can confuse anyone, but Wisconsin citizens facing such charges should take the time to learn about the allegations. This will prepare defendants for court, if necessary, and for any other legal proceeding related to their cases.

Mail fraud is not just a crime punishable in the state of Wisconsin; it is a federal crime as well. In many cases, federal criminal charges result in harsher sentences that often include time in prison and the paying of costly fines. As important as these facts are, however, they do not tell the readers what mail and wire fraud really is.

In the most basic terms, wire and mail fraud occurs when an individual uses wire or mail communications to:

— Perpetrate a fraud scheme — Perpetrate a material deception — Deprive someone of honest services or property

Of course, before a conviction can occur, the government must prove that the defendant knowingly and willingly took part in such schemes.

Mail fraud and wire fraud are separate offenses, but they share similar wording and the penalties are about the same. Further, someone facing allegations of communications fraud need not have actually sent the fraudulent piece of communication. The government considers it enough to pursue a conviction if the defendant in some way caused the wire or mail to be sent or was peripherally involved in a fraud scheme.

Naturally, this type of fraud often has many elements based on each individual case, but one thing is certain in all instances. The defendant needs legal assistance in order to come through the process as intact as possible. It can be very difficult to defend oneself against charges of wire or mail fraud alone.

Source: Federation of American Scientists, “Mail and Wire Fraud: A Brief Overview of Federal Criminal Law,” accessed April. 15, 2015

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