Lack of Authority
Another defense to a charge of mail or wire fraud in the agent/employer context is “lack of authority.” This will most commonly arise where the prosecution seeks to use false representations of agents to show that a defendant had the individual fraudulent intent. The prosecution must have evidence that the defendant in fact authorized or ratified the statement. The most common evidence will be to show the repetition of the same misrepresentation by different salesmen. This is strong evidence of a common scheme. However, it is important to note that such evidence of individual intent will not be necessary for the prosecution to prove in most corporation cases. Under the doctrine of respondeat superior, employers are liable for the actions of their agents so long as they act within the normal scope of the company’s operations and intend to benefit the corporation.