The requirement that the use of the mails or wires be in furtherance of the general scheme sets an important, albeit rare, outer boundary on the extent to which the fraud statutes can be employed. Use of the mails or wires “in furtherance” of the scheme is any mailing or wire transmission for the purpose of executing or attempting to execute the scheme. Of course, the mailing must meet the “in connection” requirement, which means it is at least incidental to an essential part of the scheme. The “in furtherance” requirement is more about the timing of the mailing: Once the scheme has reached fruition (i.e. no gain remains to be reaped from the fraud), then mailings or wire transmissions cannot be fairly characterized as “furthering” the scheme. This is because no act remains to be done to enable the perpetrator to enjoy the fruits of the fraud. Once he has received all he set out to obtain, or accomplished his purpose completely, the scheme has reached fruition and no subsequent mailing can further it. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, and prosecutors have been successful in “stretching” the timespan of the fraud enough to show that particular mailings were “in furtherance” of the scheme even after fruition.
The most common way such subsequent mailings are successfully prosecuted is by characterizing the mailings as “lulling” the victim of the deprivation into a false sense of security. For example, suppose a Ponzi schemer has made his final illicit withdrawal (i.e. the scheme has reached fruition), and his unwitting victims are still under the impression that their sizeable promised returns are currently being earned by the miracle business model in which they so eagerly invested. Even though the scheme has technically reached fruition in terms of the financial gain of Mr. Ponzi, if he sent letters to clients updating them on the recent performance of their nonexistent securities, this will typically be held to be “in furtherance” of the scheme to defraud. Anything like a phone call or email that forestalls action by the victims and/or law enforcement that otherwise would be taken will fall within the time frame required to support a wire fraud conviction. Most efforts to prevent detection, even after the scheme has reached fruition, will satisfy the “in furtherance” requirement.
If you find yourself facing mail or wire fraud charges, it is critical that you retain a skilled and competent criminal defense attorney well versed in the wire fraud and mail fraud statutes to represent you on your behalf. The attorneys at Parkman White, LLP are experts in the field of mail and wire fraud, and have valuable experience as seasoned trial lawyers in this field. Contact Parkman White, LLP at 205-502-2000 or visit our website at (URL) for more information on how we can put our expertise to work for you.