THE FEDERAL MAIL fraud statute is codified under 18 USC §1341, and has two essential elements: 1) use of the United States mail; 2) use that is in furtherance of defrauding someone. The law has been utilized in diverse cases by federal prosecutors in pursuing everything from simple confidence games to bribery of public officials. §1341 has been used against virtually every new method of fraud, and sometimes has been the only way to prosecute and adequately punish sophisticated fraudsters. Despite the broad application and peculiar elements that give §1341 great prosecutorial power, those characteristics also place it in jeopardy of inappropriate and abusive usages.

Its offspring statute, wire fraud (18 USC §1343), is in almost all cases interpreted similarly to §1341. Mail fraud encompasses the ...

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