Mail Fraud

The mail fraud statute, Title 18 U.S.C. §1341, makes it a federal crime to use the mail in any way to advance a scheme to defraud or to obtain money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, false representations.

Defrauding a victim means to deprive someone of something of value by trick, deceit or overreaching. Miami attorney Ken Swartz at the Swartz Law Firm has the experience to represent you or a loved one if accused of mail fraud.

Fraudulent scheme can appear in any aspect of the business world. As an example, suppose an enterprising person has an idea for making a product and need to solicit investors. He makes his pitch about how good his new product is and about his plans to market this new product. He presents potential investors with elaborate plans about how he will market the product to the niche segment of the public who he has identified as his potential customers. And he has presented his well thought out plans to manufacture his new product efficiently and profitably. The plan is convincing enough to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for his business plans.

The only problem for the investors is that none of the money is used for this business. The business is completely fictional, and the businessman has no intention of using it for the business.

False representations that a business is profitable when it makes no profit would be a false statement which if it induced someone to invest money in the non existent business could be crime. One very notorious fraudulent scheme is a Ponzi scheme, where a businessman purporting to run a profitable business solicits investors on the promise of steady returns on their investment. In realty money from new investors is used to pay interest to the earlier victims with most being spent by the con man. A notorious example of a Ponzi scheme is the Bernie Madoff scandal. Madoff claimed to be investing money in various markets and should consistently high returns. In reality he was taking money from new investors to pay interest to old investors. One most highly publicized fraudulent scheme in the Miami area was the Scott Rothstein scandal, who solicited investors with the promise of big rewards for non-existent enterprises.

The use of a telephone or internet to advance this fraudulent scheme would give the federal government jurisdiction to prosecute under the wire fraud statute.

The use if the mail does not have to be an essential element of the offense. It only has to be incident to an essential part of a scheme or just a step in the plot. As an example, a used automobile dealer comes up with a scheme to sell cars to dealers customers for higher prices by tampering with the odometer. Once the retail dealer sold the car, title has to be registered by sending a form in the mail to the state agency. Though the mail registration may not have contributed directly to the duping of the customer that purchased the car, it was necessary for passing the title, which in turn was essential to the dealer’s scheme.

The fraudulent representation made by a person must be as to a material fact. In other words in the example here, the automobile dealer misrepresentations about the odometer are material to the customer’s decision to buy the car. Clearly the number of miles on car’s odometer is a material fact in any car buyer’s decision to purchase a car, especially if the car is used. If for example the dealer turned back the odometer by 10 miles, the potential buyer would probably not be materially influenced by the fraud. However, a 50,000 mile difference in the odometer would be material to the car buyer’s decision to purchase a car.

If you or someone you know has been arrested, is being investigated, or is accused of committing any type do fraud, you need a Florida attorney to represent you who has the experience and expertise in criminal law to handle the problem. Ken Swartz, one of the top Miami criminal defense attorneys in the state, is ready to come to your defense.

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