The Champion

August 2003 , Page 12 

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Schemes to Defraud

By Ellen Podgor

Many issues of The Champion could be spent discussing all the different forms of conduct that the government calls “schemes to defraud.” This shorter article examines what is not a scheme to defraud.

Federal prosecutors have used fraud statutes, most significantly the mail and wire fraud statutes1 to indict a prominent member of Congress,2 governors,3 students for cheating on an exam,4 individuals alleged to have committed fraud through their operation of a pet cemetery,5 and all too often, attorneys.6 The endless list of individuals charged with a violation of a fraud statute is allowed, in large part, because many of the statutes are predicated on a “scheme or artifice to defraud,” a term often interpreted with enormous breadth.

In the “weaponry”7 available to prosecutors one finds statutes such as mail fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1341), wire fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1343), bank fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1344), bankruptcy fraud (18 U.S.C. § 157), health care fraud (18 U.S.C., § 1347), major fraud (18 U.S.

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