Even though many people use electronic communications more frequently than the mail, mail fraud is one of the most common federal crimes. If a person is charged with mail fraud, he or she may face significant fines and penalties.
Mail fraud overview and penalties
Mail fraud occurs where the person has an intent to defraud and mails a letter or other communication for the purpose of executing a fraud scheme. It could include money, but also includes contracts and other mailings.
The mail can be sent through the U.S. Postal Service or a private entity, like FedEx or UPS, for example. The person who mails the item can be held responsible, as well as anyone who knowingly participated in the fraud. If a person is convicted of mail fraud, he or she may have to pay a fine and serve a lengthy prison sentence.
Common examples and potential defense
Mail fraud can include mailing a fraudulent home improvement offer, offering to sell a person an unnecessary health insurance product, stating that a person is entitled to an inheritance that doesn’t exist, fraudulent charity requests and fake political contributions.
Sometimes, mail fraud includes targeting unemployed individuals such as telling them that they must pay an upfront fee to register with an employment agency or to apply for a job.
The strongest defense against a mail fraud charge may be a lack of connection between the use of the mail and the scheme to defraud another person. If a person is charged with mail fraud, an experienced criminal defense attorney can provide guidance and advice.