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Illinois Criminal Code of 1961

Article 17: Mail and Wire Fraud

Although snail mail is a fading mode of communication, the crime of mail fraud is still made punishable by Illinois law. There are many situations in which a person may be charged with mail fraud. If a person intends to commit a fraudulent scheme, and he or she uses mail service to send counterfeit items, or if he or she takes mail addressed to someone else, a conviction of mail fraud is probable.

This section of Illinois law also describes the crime of wire fraud. It is illegal to transmit any electronic information through wire, radio, or television communications if the sender intends to commit fraud. A violation of both mail fraud or wire fraud laws is a Class 3 felony.

Need an Illinois criminal defense attorney? If you've been arrested for mail or wire fraud in Illinois, call our Chicago criminal defense attorneys today at (312) 466-9466 to discuss your case.

The text below comes from Article 17B of the Illinois Criminal Code of 1961. This law may have changed -- please read the important legal disclaimer at the bottom of this page.

Sec. 17-24. Fraudulent schemes and artifices.
    (720 ILCS 5/17-24)

(a) Fraud by wire, radio, or television.

(1) A person commits wire fraud when he or she:

(A) devises or intends to devise a scheme or artifice to defraud or to obtain money or property by means of false pretenses, representations, or promises; and

(B) (i) transmits or causes to be transmitted from within this State; or

(ii) transmits or causes to be transmitted so that it is received by a person within this State; or

(iii) transmits or causes to be transmitted so that it is reasonably foreseeable that it will be accessed by a person within this State:

any writings, signals, pictures, sounds, or electronic or electric impulses by means of wire, radio, or television communications for the purpose of executing the scheme or artifice.

(2) A scheme or artifice to defraud using electronic transmissions is deemed to occur in the county from which a transmission is sent, if the transmission is sent from within this State, the county in which a person within this State receives the transmission, and the county in which a person who is within this State is located when the person accesses a transmission.

(3) Wire fraud is a Class 3 felony.

(b) Mail fraud.

(1) A person commits mail fraud when he or she:

(A) devises or intends to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud or to obtain money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations or promises, or to sell, dispose of, loan, exchange, alter, give away, distribute, supply, or furnish or procure for unlawful use any counterfeit obligation, security, or other article, or anything represented to be or intimidated or held out to be such counterfeit or spurious article; and

(B) for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice or attempting so to do, places in any post office or authorized depository for mail matter within this State, any matter or thing whatever to be delivered by the Postal Service, or deposits or causes to be deposited in this State by mail or by private or commercial carrier according to the direction on the matter or thing, or at the place at which it is directed to be delivered by the person to whom it is addressed, any such matter or thing.

(2) A scheme or artifice to defraud using a government or private carrier is deemed to occur in the county in which mail or other matter is deposited with the Postal Service or a private commercial carrier for delivery, if deposited with the Postal Service or a private or commercial carrier within this State and the county in which a person within this State receives the mail or other matter from the Postal Service or a private or commercial carrier.

(3) Mail fraud is a Class 3 felony.

(c) (Blank).

(d) The period of limitations for prosecution of any offense defined in this Section begins at the time when the last act in furtherance of the scheme or artifice is committed.

(e) In this Section:

(1) "Scheme or artifice to defraud" includes a scheme or artifice to deprive another of the intangible right to honest services.

(2) (Blank). (Source: P.A. 92-16, eff. 6-28-01; 93-440, eff. 8-5-03.)

Sec. 17-25. Use of scanning device or reencoder to defraud.
    (720 ILCS 5/17-25)

(a) In this Section:

"Scanning device" means a scanner, reader, or any other electronic device that is used to access, read, scan, obtain, memorize, or store, temporarily or permanently, information encoded on the magnetic strip or stripe of a payment card.

"Reencoder" means an electronic device that places encoded information from the magnetic strip or stripe of a payment card onto the magnetic strip or stripe of a different payment card.

"Payment card" means a credit card, charge card, debit card, or any other card that is issued to an authorized card user and that allows the user to obtain, purchase, or receive goods, services, money, or anything else of value from a merchant.

"Merchant" means an owner or operator of any retail mercantile establishment or any agent, employee, lessee, consignee, officer, director, franchisee, or independent contractor of the owner or operator. "Merchant" also means a person who receives from an authorized user of a payment card, or someone the person believes to be an authorized user, a payment card or information from a payment card, or what the person believes to be a payment card or information from a payment card, as the instrument for obtaining, purchasing or receiving goods, services, money, or anything else of value from the person.

(b) It is unlawful for a person to use:

(1) a scanning device to access, read, obtain, memorize, or store, temporarily or permanently, information encoded on the magnetic strip or stripe of a payment card without the permission of the authorized user of the payment card and with the intent to defraud the authorized user, the issuer of the authorized user's payment card, or a merchant; or

(2) a reencoder to place information encoded on the magnetic strip or stripe of a payment card onto the magnetic strip or stripe of a different card without the permission of the authorized user of the card from which the information is being reencoded and with the intent to defraud the authorized user, the issuer of the authorized user's payment card, or a merchant.

(c) Sentence. A violation of this Section is a Class 4 felony. A second or subsequent violation of this Section is a Class 3 felony. (Source: P.A. 92-818, eff. 8-21-02.)

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DISCLAIMER: These excerpts from the law are provided for reference purposes only. Visitors to our Chicago criminal defense lawyer website should be aware that Illinois criminal laws have been amended many times and that Illinois crime laws posted on this site may not be current. In addition, Illinois criminal case law defines precedents for legal determinations that are not defined in the original laws.

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