Mail fraud is an umbrella term that may refer to several different criminal actions. There are multiple kinds of mail fraud that are recognized by the United States Postal Service and U.S. court system. Some of these include employment fraud, such as pyramid schemes, fraud against veterans completely through the mail service and fraud against the elderly who unwillingly participate in scams.
It’s important that anyone who is accused of mail fraud understands that this is a federal crime. Whether you’re accused of scamming people by requesting personal information through the mail or you’re facing accusations of selling products, collecting money and never delivering the goods, you could face serious penalties.
What does the prosecution need to prove in a mail fraud case?
The first thing that the prosecution will need to show is that the alleged fraud took place in a post office or by mail. If there is any mail or wire communication included in the scam, then the prosecution may seek mail or wire fraud charges (or both).
The prosecution also has to show that the communications were meant to give the victim a false sense of security or to make the transaction less suspicious in some way. There also has to be an intention to defraud another person and to deprive them of the honest services they believed that they’d have access to by participating.
A mail fraud scheme usually is used to:
- Sell, distribute, supply, exchange or supply counterfeits
- Obtain property or money under false pretenses
There are serious penalties for mail fraud upon conviction.
What should you do if you’re accused of mail fraud?
Understand that a mail fraud conviction could result in heavy penalties including up to 20 years in prison and significant fines. If the crime involves major disasters or emergencies, or if a financial institution is affected, then enhanced penalties may apply. If you’re accused of participating in a scheme of this kind, it’s vital that you look into your legal rights with your defense attorney. You need to develop a strong defense, because the penalties for these crimes are significant and could impact you for many years to come.