One element the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict a defendant of mail or wire fraud is that the mails or wires were caused to be used “in connection with” the scheme to defraud. This element is often confused with the “in furtherance” element of the crimes, but actually has an entirely different meaning. Where the “in furtherance” element is about the timing of the mailing or wire transmission in relation to the scheme, the “in connection with” requirement refers more to the relationship between the letter or phone call and the overall fraud.
An important thing to note is that the mailing or wire transmission need not contain any fraudulent statements itself in order to be considered “in connection” with the scheme. Instead, all that is required is that the mail or wire transmission be incident to an essential part of the scheme. Thus, for example, a bribing lobbyist calling a senator to set up a meeting place in order to pay the bribe need not explicitly discuss the bribery. Since the payment is an essential part of the scheme to bribe the senator, and the phone call is incident (in regards to) the payment, the “in connection” element could be satisfied if the lobbyist were charged with wire fraud.