Title 18 of the U.S. Code defines the elements prosecutors must prove when attempting to convict on wire fraud or mail fraud charges. The U.S. Department of Justice website notes that a wire fraud offense requires showing the defendant used a phone or electronic communications to carry out a deceptive action.
Mail fraud offenses consist of two elements that prosecutors must prove to obtain a conviction, according to JUSTICE.gov. The law requires showing defendants used the U.S. Postal Service to execute a fraudulent scheme. Prosecutors must also show that defendants intended to use the mail as part of their plans to commit fraud.
Electronic communications may provide prosecutors with proof of fraud
The method of communication separates wire fraud from mail fraud, as noted by the Corporate Finance Institute. Individuals facing wire fraud charges may have used the internet, email or their mobile devices to send their messages. Electronic images, videos or sounds may count as evidence.
Prosecutors may have enough evidence to prove wire fraud by only showing messages sent through an electronic device. Sending video ads, for example, to entice recipients to purchase non-existent goods may qualify as wire fraud. The ads could count as evidence.
The court may convict when shown messages crossed state lines
A wire fraud conviction generally requires the government to show that a defendant communicated between two or more states. The U.S. Secret Service website notes that agents may begin an investigation when consumers file complaints about their online purchases. Officials, however, may not uncover sufficient evidence to prove fraud.
Individuals facing wire fraud or mail fraud charges may require strong proof to counter a prosecutor’s claims. Accurate records that show a defendant acted in good faith may defend against conviction or harsh penalties.