Don’t be confused or distracted if you hear investigators throw around the phrases “mail fraud” or “wire fraud”.
Basically, the mail fraud and wire fraud statutes are simply the way federal prosecutors get jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute various types of fraud, embezzlement, theft and other schemes to obtain money by false pretenses.
In other words, if someone uses postal services (US Mail, FedEx, UPS etc) or the internet (e-mail, websites, online apps) or the telephone to defraud someone, then it becomes a federal (rather than state) crime.
Here’s the federal Wire Fraud Statute (18 U.S.C. 1343):
Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, transmits or causes to be 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, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.
Most of the time, federal investigators are at the same time investigating another “substantive crime” such as health insurance fraud, tax fraud, ponzi schemes (securities fraud), environmental dumping or storage violations, etc.
Therefore, it is crucial to learn about and focus on these underlying substantive crime statutes.
Over the last year, the federal prosecutor’s office in Charlotte has reinvigorated its tax prosecution team and is investigating and charging more people with various types of tax crimes.
Two specific crimes are being pursued aggressively right now:
In both these types, the U.S. Attorney’s office is focusing on charging people, not their companies.
We can help small businesswomen and men who come under this scrutiny to figure out whether they simply made mistakes rather than committed a crime.
One of the main problems we see is that tax cases start out as civil investigations, and businessmen talk to revenue officers and make admissions of fact, not realizing that these statements can then be used by criminal investigators and prosecutors.
In other words, you really should think twice before talking to any kind of I.R.S. or North Carolina Tax officials. Talk to a lawyer first.