Any misrepresentation made over the telephone, faxes or email or by regular mail is a potential ground for a prosecutor to bring a criminal case in federal court. The penalties for violations of the wire and mail fraud statutes are extreme. Individual phone calls, mailings, faxes, or emails can be separately charged and added together to reach formerly unbelieveable sentences. Prosecutors can locate a massive criminal conspiracy in a particular place simply by alleging that telephone calls were made for that location. Wire and mail fraud charges often accompany securities fraud counts, money laundering counts, public corruption claims, and a host of other types of cases because of how broad the statutes are.
Sometimes prosecutors try to charge a violation of federal wire and mail fraud statutes by claiming that indivduals were defrauded of “honest services”, in the context of cases involving alleged corporate crimes, elected officials or governmental lobbyists. This practice has been criticized by the United States Supreme Court and it is important to retain counsel familiar with recent developments in the federal criminal laws focussing upon mail and wire fraud.