White collar crimes do not usually make the news in Louisiana unless they involve a big name. However, that does not mean they draw less attention from law enforcement and government officials. One such white collar crime is mail fraud.

Joining in a venture that has elements of mail fraud may lead someone into deeper liability than he or she expects.

What is mail fraud?

To constitute mail fraud, The United States Department of Justice explains a crime must meet two elements:

  • A scheme to commit fraud
  • Use of the mail to pull off the scheme

The first element requires a plan that is deceptive. Schemes could be fake lotteries or sweepstakes. Anything that someone might believe is real but that seeks to defraud is a scheme under this definition.

The second element is that it uses the mail. This could mean the individual sends something through the mail to initiate the scheme, but it also could mean that he or she wants the recipient to send something through the mail as part of the scheme. The element requires only that someone uses the mail to complete the plan.

What is conspiracy to commit mail fraud?

In order for the law to consider someone as a conspirator of a mail fraud venture, the person must do three things:

  • Associate himself or herself with the scheme
  • Participate as in something he or she wants to make happen
  • Seek through his or her actions to make the plan succeed

In general, a person who conspires to commit mail fraud faces liability, not only for his or her own actions, but also for the co-conspirator’s other offenses committed to further the scheme. If the individual withdraws from the conspiracy or they accomplish the scheme, any other actions the co-conspirator takes may not implicate him or her.