Laws are often confusing. Take the crime of fraud, for example. It seems straightforward enough until you dig deeper and find cases where the crime becomes infinitely more complex.
One such case recently surfaced here in Texas which perfectly underscores this point. A Groves, Texas man was brought up on the charge of mail fraud and a litany of other charges.
Below, we’re going to take a closer look at that case and examine the charges brought against the man. We’ll then look at ways a fraud charge can be attached to other criminal charges and examine some possible defenses that a person can use to fight back if they find themselves charged.
How Can Fraud Get You Charged With Other Crimes As Well?
The Groves man was involved in a scheme to purchase homes and then damage them in order to make money from insurance claims. This was usually done by setting fire to the homes.
This scheme was accomplished with home purchase, fire, and then a fake insurance claim with the respective insurance company. In total, over $1 million was paid out to settle fraudulent claims.
The man was hit with a charge of mail fraud due to his use of the U.S. mail service for the scheme. The two elements of mail fraud are as follows:
“1) having devised or intending to devise a scheme to defraud (or to perform specified fraudulent acts)
2) use of the mail for the purpose of executing, or attempting to execute, the scheme (or specified fraudulent acts”
The man was also charged with the use of fire in the commission of mail fraud. In other words, the state of Texas charged him with arson. Arson is described as follows under Texas law:
“A person commits an offense if the person starts a fire, regardless of whether the fire continues after ignition, or causes an explosion with intent to destroy or damage:
any vegetation, fence, or structure on open-space land
any building, habitation, or vehicle”
There are other crimes besides arson that can be charged in conjunction with mail fraud. Some of the most common charges typically seen in a mail fraud case include:
It is common for a person who commits mail fraud with a group of other people to be in violation of the RICO act. The RICO act was created to help fight organized criminal enterprises and can lead to further penalties and prison time as well as fines.
Other Forms of Fraud
Fraud is a relatively ambiguous crime. There are hundreds of actions that can fall under the category of fraud. One example of fraud in connection with mail fraud is a vendor selling luxury handbags. If the vendor charges full price and claims the handbags are real, then mails out counterfeit knockoffs, that is fraud and mail fraud.
This involves purposely writing bad checks. If a person paid for a product with a bad check and mailed that check across state lines, they have committed both check fraud and mail fraud.
There are dozens of other crimes that can be charged in connection with mail fraud.
Again, the above are just some of the most common crimes charged in conjunction with fraud.
Possible Defenses To Mail Fraud in Texas
In order to convict a person of mail fraud, it must be proven that they purposefully and knowingly used the mail with the intention of defrauding another person. The primary defense against mail fraud is that the person did not intentionally commit the fraud.
An example would be a person who mails a bad check. If it can be shown that the person did not realize the check was bad, they have not committed mail fraud as there was no intent to defraud another.
There are other possible defenses to mail fraud. Which defense is best for you will depend on the specific circumstances surrounding the alleged crime. For this reason it is important to understand all of the legal intricacies involved with the crime of fraud.