Friday, September 12, 2014

Mailing Credit Card Bills Satisfies Mail Fraud Jurisdiction Requirement for Ongoing Scheme

The receipt and payment of credit card bills by mail over time in this case is sufficient for federal jurisdiction because the use of the mails was part of the ongoing scheme.  Traxler made unauthorized purchases (estimated to be over $60,000) on her employer’s credit cards over the course of approximately year.  Traxler moved to dismiss the indictment, which only listed one Visa card statement being sent to her employer that included a personal charge, for lack of jurisdiction.  Traxler argued that the alleged mailing was a routine statement from the credit card company and did not satisfy the 18 U.S.C. § 1341 mailing requirement.
For the panel, the critical question was not whether the mailing of the statement was routine or not.  “[T]he critical question is whether Traxler’s fraud was completed prior to the transmission of documents through the mails, or if the use of the mails was part of an ongoing scheme.”  Traxler argues that her fraud was completed at the time of the unauthorized purchases, but the panel disagrees.  Since Traxler’s unauthorized use of the credit card occurred over the course of more than a year and involved multiple purchases, the panel finds that her “continued fraud depended on her employer receiving and paying the credit card bills through the mails.”  Unlike defendants whose fraud was completed before the use of mails (and did not depend on credit card payment), it was material to Traxler that her employer continue making payments for her ongoing scheme to continue.  So, the mailing of the credit card bills in this instance was sufficient for federal jurisdiction.



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