The mail is so interwoven in daily life that we may not think about it as a window to crimes like mail fraud, a felony in Minnesota. If you commit a crime involving the mail, you can find yourself in some serious legal jeopardy.
Case in point: a financial advisor in Maple Grove is currently being accused of federal mail fraud as part of a scheme to misuse his client’s funds. The U.S. Attorney’s office is alleging that he defrauded at least 23 investors out of millions in a three-year period.
So, how does defrauding investors get labeled as mail fraud? Here’s what you need to know about the twists and turns of these charges. It might terminate in the challenging choice to turn yourself in if there is a warrant out for your arrest.
What Is Mail Fraud?
In most cases, mail fraud is a part of a larger fraud scheme that communicates through the mail or by electronic means. Using any parcel or mail carrier, including the U.S. Postal Service, as part of a scheme to defraud people of goods, services, or money is considered mail fraud.
Some examples of fraud in which specific mail fraud charges may be extrapolated include:
This is a form of fraud that relies on the funds of recent investors to pay early investors. The chain of money leads everyone involved to believe their investments are rapidly growing when, in actuality, they aren’t at all.
Checks are written knowing the account doesn’t contain the funds to cover them.
Mail fraud that targets a large swath of people, essentially stealing from them.
Failure to file tax returns and tax evasion differ from mail fraud, but it’s not uncommon to see these charges together.
Similar to a Ponzi scheme, pyramid scheme disciples get paid to bring in new participants. The operation may involve buying materials to resell, such as make-up or protein powders, but the only way to turn significant profit is through recruiting new members.
When the origin of illegally-obtained money is concealed to make a business seem legitimate, this is considered laundering – for example, a farm stand that filters cash for a drug dealer. It can include hiding the trail of money by transferring it from bank account to bank account.
This occurs when someone takes property that doesn’t belong to them when they were in a trusted position.
Mail Fraud Conviction
To be convicted of mail fraud and charges related to it, a clear intent to defraud must be shown. If found guilty, you can face up to 20 years behind bars and fines of as much as $250,000. Those found guilty may also need to pay restitution to their victims. The level of punishment depends on the number of victims involved in the case and the amount of money, services, or goods involved in the fraud.
How to Turn Yourself In
If you learn of a warrant for your arrest because of involvement in a mail fraud qualifying scheme, then the best course of action is to turn yourself in. You should call the local authorities in your area to arrange it.
It’s best to avoid turning yourself in on a Monday or Friday if possible. While you don’t want to wait too long once you know there’s a warrant, Fridays will find judges overscheduled, and they’ll be dealing with a backlog of cases from the weekend on Mondays.
Also, the earlier in the day, the better. This can make all the difference when you need to pay a bond and be released from jail.
What About Bond?
Once you have been formally arrested, you cannot leave until you go before a judge and have your bond set. The best thing to do is contact an attorney beforehand so they can help to guide you through this process. They’ll be ready to go once the bond is set. An attorney can assist you during the bond hearing as long as you’ve retained them prior to the hearing.
Don’t forget, even if you turn yourself in, you have the right to remain silent. You should use that right and not speak to anyone without an attorney present. Insist that you want to exercise your right to remain silent, and ask for your attorney.
About the Author:
Christopher Keyser is a Minneapolis-based criminal and DWI defense attorney known for fighting aggressively for his clients and utilizing innovative tactics to get the most positive results. He has been featured in numerous media outlets due to the breadth and depth of his knowledge, and recognized as a Minnesota Super Lawyers Rising Star (2014–2015), a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013–2015), and a Top 40 Under 40 Attorney (2013–2015).