Mail Fraud Law

A mail fraud definition is the use of the mail system to defraud other individuals. To be found guilty of mail fraud the following elements must be proved:

    • The defendant’s intent to defraud another individual.
    • The defendant’s scheme to defraud another individual.
    • The defendant actually mailed the materials in question.

The prosecution is not required to show that an actual loss occurred or that the scheme was successful. Further, the prosecution is not required to show actual deception took place due to the fraud. Although state statutes differ on the requirements for mail fraud, the federal statute regarding mail fraud only requires the prosecutor to show that the defendant intended to defraud another and had a scheme to do so.

Mail fraud is not limited to schemes effecting a deprivation of tangible money or property rights; it also includes schemes that deprive individuals of intangible non-property rights.

Mail Fraud in the Context of an Employment Relationship

Mail fraud is a common crime in the employment arena. Schemes to defraud by way of mail usually involve an employee with a conflict of interest. The employee may make a profit at the employer’s expense or without the employer’s knowledge. In many jurisdictions this offense is prosecuted if the prosecutor is able to show that the employee’s actions constituted a concealment of material information which he is under a duty to disclose to another under circumstances where the nondisclosure could or does result in harm.

Defendant’s Good Faith Defense

A possible defense that the defendant may assert if charged with mail fraud is the good faith defense. The good faith defense is an absolute defense to the crime of mail fraud. The good faith defense with respect to a mail fraud charge is defined to include the intention to carry out the promises and representations made in an item mailed to the individual. The defendant must show that the representations, although not true, were made without an intent to defraud. Good faith requires more than an honest belief that an investment or project will ultimately succeed.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

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