1996 Fraud Ruling Overruled in the 11TH CircuitBondBeebe
John Merchant, CPA, CFE
A 1996 court ruling stated that in order for prosecutors to achieve conviction of a defendant accused of mail fraud, they must show that a reasonably cautious person would have been deceived by the defendant’s scheme. The court in the 1996 ruling stated that the ruling was consistent with the mail fraud statute that was enacted in 1872. Prosecutors complained that this ruling had the unintended effect of making it nearly impossible to prosecute for a scheme aimed at victims who are basically gullible or naïve. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has thrown out this precedent, essentially agreeing that a perpetrator who tries to defraud the gullible and ignorant is no less guilty than one who tries to deceive the average person. Legal experts believe that this ruling may have paved the way for an eventual appeal to the United States Supreme Court.
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