When federal agencies investigate alleged schemes to defraud, mail fraud are typically some of the most common criminal charges that result. Even when there may not be enough evidence to indict an alleged offender on other more serious charges, mail fraud charges can still be filed because many alleged schemes involve some use of the United States Postal Service or another private or commercial interstate carrier.
Whether an alleged offender is facing additional federal charges or just mail fraud charges, the possible consequences of a conviction can be extremely serious. Alleged offenders could potentially be sentenced to decades in prison and ordered to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.Mail Fraud Lawyer in Broward County, FL
Do you think that you might be under investigation or were you already indicted in South Florida for alleged mail fraud? The Hoffman Firm aggressively defends clients facing federal white collar crime charges in Miramar, Pompano Beach, Davie, Pembroke Pines, Margate, and many surrounding communities in Broward County.
Evan A. Hoffman is a criminal defense attorney in Fort Lauderdale who is admitted to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Call (954) 524-4474 today to take advantage of a free, confidential consultation that will let our lawyer provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case.
Fort Lauderdale Mail Fraud Information Center
- How does federal law define mail fraud?
- What are the possible sentences an alleged offender could receive if convicted?
- Where can I learn more about mail fraud?
Definition of Mail Fraud in Florida
One reason that mail fraud charges are common is because the alleged use of the United States Postal Service or another private or commercial interstate carrier does not have to be an essential element of the scheme to defraud. Under 18 U.S. Code § 1341, alleged offenders can be convicted of this crime if they:
- Devised or intended to devise a scheme or artifice to defraud or obtain money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, that involved a material deception likely to influence or capable of influencing the person to whom it was addressed;
- Used the United States Postal Service or another private or commercial interstate carrier in furtherance of a scheme or artifice to defraud; and
- Intended to deprive another party of money, property, or honest services.
The phrase “honest services” tends to apply to schemes that involve bribery or kickbacks. Such cases usually involve public officials who receive payments in exchange for certain actions or do not disclose conflicts of interest.
Federal Mail Fraud Penalties
While mail fraud charges are frequently one of multiple charges an alleged offender might face, the possible consequences of a conviction for just this crime can be severe. A mail fraud offense is punishable by:
- Maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; and/or
- Maximum fine of $250,000 for individuals or $500,000 for organizations.
When alleged mail fraud offenses affect a financial institution or occur in relation to, or involve any benefit authorized, transported, transmitted, transferred, disbursed, or paid in connection with, a presidentially declared major disaster or emergency, then a conviction becomes punishable by:
- Maximum sentence of 30 years in prison; and/or
- Maximum fine of $1 million.
In addition to imprisonment and fines, alleged offenders can also be ordered to pay restitution to all alleged victims.
Florida Resources for Mail Fraud Offenses
USPS Mail Fraud | United States Postal Inspection Service — You can file a mail fraud complaint and learn about how mail fraud cases are handled on this section of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service website. Elsewhere on the website, you can find common types of mail fraud schemes such as telemarketing fraud, financial fraud, employment fraud, and others. While Postal Inspectors have the power to seek prosecutive or administrative action against alleged offenders, they do not have the authority to ensure alleged victims obtain refunds.
In Ponzi We Trust | Smithsonian — Charles Ponzi’s surname is synonymous with schemes to defraud. After duping tens of thousands of people out of millions of dollars, Ponzi was charged with 86 counts of mail fraud. He pled guilty to a single count and was sentenced to five years in prison, only to be charged with larceny by the state of Massachusetts when he was released after serving three and a half years of the sentence. He sued and claimed it was double jeopardy to be tried for the same offense twice, but the United States Supreme Court ruled in Ponzi v. Fessenden that his federal plea bargains had no standing regarding state charges. Learn more about who Charles Ponzi was in this December 1998 article from Smithsonian Magazine.
If you have been indicted or believe that you could be under investigation in South Florida for alleged mail fraud, it is critical that you do not say anything to authorities or any agency without legal representation. It will be in your best interest to contact The Hoffman Firm as soon as possible for help fighting to get the criminal charges reduced or dismissed.
Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney Evan A. Hoffman represents clients throughout Broward County, including Lauderhill, Cooper City, Plantation, Coral Springs, Sunrise, and several other nearby areas. He can review your case and help you understand all of your legal options during a free consultation as soon as you call (954) 524-4474 or submit an online contact form today.