Mail Fraud: Opening Letters

50 Pages Posted: 8 Dec 2008

See all articles by Ellen S. Podgor

Ellen S. Podgor

Stetson University College of Law

Date Written: 1992


This article dissects the mail fraud statute, examining briefly its historical origins. It then concentrates on developments to the crime of mail fraud, namely a legislative enactment that redefines "scheme or artifice to defraud" to include the "intangible right of honest services" and case law that enlarges the "infurtherance" element of the statute. This Article highlights the confusion and ambiguity caused by these statutory and case-law modifications. It argues that mail fraud, while moving further from its roots, has reached a level that permits its haphazard application to a wide spectrum of criminal conduct. The Article calls for legislative modification and restructuring of the statute, coupled with strict interpretation by the courts, to transform the existing "stopgap" provision into a recognizable crime.

Keywords: mail fraud, white collar crime, fraud, criminal law, federal criminal law

JEL Classification: K14

Suggested Citation

Podgor, Ellen S., Mail Fraud: Opening Letters (1992). South Carolina Law Review, Vol. 43, No. 2, 1992, Available at SSRN:

Ellen S. Podgor (Contact Author)

Stetson University College of Law ( email )

1401 61st Street South
Gulfport, FL 33707
United States
727 562 7348 (Phone)


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