Mail or postal fraud occurs when an individual intentionally commits fraud and uses the mail and postal systems in the process, furthering the scheme. Fraudulent conduct can involve embezzlement, conversion, improper handling or retention; use or disposal of postal and money-order funds; false returns of postal and money-order business; and forgery, counterfeiting, alteration, improper use or handling of postal and money-order blanks, forms, vouchers, accounts, records, dies, plates and engravings.
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At Hark and Hark, our extensive federal court experience handling all aspects of many federal criminal matters has made us thoroughly familiar with mail fraud and postal fraud schemes. Any artifice or scheme to utilize the postal service involving theft of funds from any entity through the mail or involving the mail could be considered mail fraud. How to defend these cases, participate in the investigation and handle these cases at trial are assets that very few attorneys have.
Often called into question during the prosecution of these offenses is the individual's intent or awareness, as well as the level of involvement he or she played in the crime. The government must prove that the defendant had knowledge of the illicit objectives of the fraudulent scheme and willfully intended that those larger objectives be achieved. The prosecution must prove specific intent to commit fraud.
Fraud of the Post Office has been defined as any fraudulent conduct involving the embezzlement, conversion, improper handling, retention, use, or disposal of postal and money-order funds, false returns of postal and money-order business, forgery, counterfeiting, alteration, improper use or handling of postal and money-order blanks, forms, vouchers, accounts, and records, and the dies, plates, and engravings therefore, with the punishments provided for such offenses are extended and made applicable to postal savings depository business and funds and related matters. (18 U.S.C. 1691)
At issue in many cases is a defendant's or accused party's culpable participation. Did the person know in what scheme they may be involved? Can the government prove the defendant had "knowledge of the illicit objectives of the fraudulent scheme and willfully intended that those larger objectives be achieved?" Has the government proved a specific intent in the overall scheme to use the mail and/or postal system to commit the fraud.
A salesperson's personality or sale pitch versus misleading customers about a role within a company and the success rate of the sale's team are serious differences in these cases. When two layers of mail and postal fraud are at issue, the relevant inquiry is not whether the defendant made fraudulent statements but whether the fraudulent statements he did make were in furtherance of the overarching fraudulent scheme of the company, for the company and at the company's behest, which the salesman knew were not true.
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