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The mail and wire fraud statutes are the “first line of defense” against fraudulent activities. Adaptable and broadly written, they are go-to tools in the white-collar prosecutor’s arsenal. But this flexibility has also raised concern about their expansive and indeterminate scope—leading the Supreme Court to eliminate certain honest-services theories of fraud and limit property-based theories of fraud to the protection of “traditional property interests.”

Unfortunately, the vagueness of the traditional property interests test has resulted in a confusing morass of inconsistent judgments. With limited guidance from the Supreme Court on how to conduct such an inquiry, lower courts have struggled to consistently determine whether alleged property interests are covered by these statutes. This has led to overturned convictions in high-profile mail and wire fraud cases ranging from the Varsity Blues college admission scandal to the Buffalo Billion bid-rigging scheme.

This Comment aims to aid courts conducting the traditional property interest analysis by synthesizing the Supreme Court’s property-based case law and proposing a hallmarks-of-property test. By providing structure to the currently amorphous analysis, the hallmarks-of-property test should minimize lingering constitutional vagueness concerns and provide increased deterrence to the would-be fraudsters across the United States.