The Broad Reach of Bank, Mail, and Wire Fraud Statutes

The Broad Reach of Bank, Mail, and Wire Fraud Statutes

The federal statutes that comprise bank, mail, and wire fraud are broadly drafted. Criminal statutes spell out what conduct constitutes the unlawful act. In general, it is more likely that a prosecutor will bring charges under broadly drafted statues, and have a greater likelihood of securing a conviction. But why?

When a criminal statute is broad it means that exactly what conduct is unlawful is not clearly defined. Effectively, this gives prosecutors wide latitude in determining what activity is a crime.

Federal Bank Fraud

The federal Bank fraud statute reads in whole:

“Whoever knowingly executes, or attempts to execute, a scheme or artifice—

  • to defraud a financial institution; or
  • to obtain any of the moneys, funds, credits, assets, securities, or other property owned by, or under the custody or control of, a financial institution, by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises;

shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned not more than 30 years, or both.” 18 U.S.C. § 1344.

Federal Mail Fraud

Mail fraud is any fraudulent scheme carried out through the “post office or authorized depository for mail matter” to intentionally deprive another party of property. 18 U.S.C. § 1341.

Federal Wire, Radio, or Television Fraud

Wire fraud is any fraudulent scheme intended to deprive another party of their property, that is “transmitted by means of wire, radio, or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce, any writings, signs, signals, pictures, or sounds for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice[.]” 18 U.S.C. § 1343.

The Broad Reach of Bank, Mail, and Wire Fraud Statutes

Together, the federal statutes on bank, mail, and wire fraud prohibit the use of a bank, the mail, interstate phone calls, the internet, radio, or television to carry out, or attempt to carry out, any fraudulent scheme.

None of these three statues require that the third party the scheme attempts to defraud rely on the fraudulent information or be injured (financially or otherwise) by the fraudulent scheme. The requirement under these statutes is that the communication carried out on one of those mediums be in furtherance of the scheme.

A fraudulent scheme, or a “scheme or artifice to defraud” as used in the statutes, may be demonstrated if the prosecutor can show concealment of material fact, affirmative misrepresentation, or any deceit in the communication.

The bank, mail, and wire fraud federal statutes have been used to prosecute a wide variety of allegedly fraudulent schemes. Various fraud crimes that have been charged under one of these three statutes include pyramid schemes, racketeering, identity theft, securities fraud, and insurance frauds. The foregoing is a short list of criminal activity that may readily be charged under the federal bank, mail, or wire fraud statutes.

Charges for bank fraud, mail fraud, and/or wire fraud are often combined with other criminal charges, or even charged in lieu of charges under statutes that are not as broad (statutes that clearly define what constitutes the criminal conduct).

Contact a White Collar Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with bank, mail, or wire fraud, contact our white collar criminal defense attorneys today. When we represent you, we will analyze and evaluate each detail of your case looking for ways that show you are not guilty of the crimes charged. Our firm is highly-respected for our ability to handle complex cases and defend our clients against the most aggressive prosecutors.

To protect your rights if you have been charged with fraud or any white collar crime, or are currently under investigation, reach out to Ashley D. Adams, PLC. We have the experience and resources that you need on your side.

Contact us or call now (480) 219-1366 for a consultation.


The attorneys at Ashley D. Adams, PLC handle state criminal cases throughout Arizona and federal criminal cases throughout the United States, including Arizona, Oklahoma, Utah, and California.