Home Law The Role Of The Mail Fraud Statute In Federal Mortgage Fraud Prosecutions

The Role Of The Mail Fraud Statute In Federal Mortgage Fraud Prosecutions

federal chargesMortgage fraud prosecutions are at a five-year low nationally, but California is a top-five target for federal mortgage fraud prosecutions. You can find news stories every day of individuals who have been arrested in connection with mortgage fraud schemes. Even so, there’s something unusual about “mortgage fraud.” Look wherever you like, but there is no crime called “mortgage fraud” in the US Code!

Federal Fraud Charges

Instead, the federal government uses some very high-powered, general fraud statutes to do the heavy lifting on federal mortgage fraud cases.  Most often, a federal prosecutor will file one or more charges of mail fraud, wire fraud, or bank fraud against a defendant accused of participating in a mortgage fraud operation.

These statutes have been tested and reviewed by the Federal Courts again and again; prosecutors and federal Judges understand them very well and have used them for years. They pose a very serious challenge to the accused. If you’ve been charged with violations of one or more federal fraud statutes, you need a very experienced federal criminal defense attorney to help defend you in Court.

In this article, we’ll look at the elements of mail fraud.  This charge is similar to, but distinctly separate from other fraud charges, such as wire fraud and bank fraud.  The element of mail fraud is often central to the government’s ability to prosecute mortgage fraud cases.

Mail Fraud

Mail fraud is defined as a crime in Title 18, § 1341 of the United States Code.  It says:

“Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme … to defraud, or for obtaining money or property using false or fraudulent pretenses, … or promises,…, places in any post office or authorized depository for mail matter, any matter or thing whatever to be sent or delivered by the Postal Service, or … delivered by any private or commercial interstate carrier, or takes or receives therefrom, any such matter or thing, … shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both…

What Does This Statute Mean?

This statute says that anyone who puts anything into the mail that is designed to defraud another party (or gives it to a private courier for delivery) has committed mail fraud. With the rise of telephones and computers, you might be tempted to think that it would be easy to get around the federal mail fraud statute by not sending anything through the mail, but instead sending documents electronically by fax or email. Enter wire fraud, another federal fraud charge that is often used to prosecute mortgage fraud.

What Can You Do If You Are Charged With Mail Fraud?

If you’ve been accused of “mortgage fraud” or mail fraud in connection with mortgage fraud or any other type of federal fraud, you need the assistance of a competent, experienced federal criminal defense attorney. If you have been indicted or are being investigated for crimes related to mortgage fraud or bank fraud, then contacting an experienced lawyer is the first thing you should do.

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