The general conspiracy statute, 18 U.S.C. § 371, creates an offense “[i]f two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose. (emphasis added). See Project, Tenth Annual Survey of White Collar Crime, 32 Am. Crim. L. Rev. 137, 379-406 (1995)(generally discussing § 371).
The operative language is the so-called “defraud clause,” that prohibits conspiracies to defraud the United States. This clause creates a separate offense from the “offense clause” in Section 371. Both offenses require the traditional elements of Section 371 conspiracy, including an illegal agreement, criminal intent, and proof of an overt act.
Original source: Justice.gov