Types of Mail Fraud
What Is Mail Fraud?
Mail fraud, as defined by 18 U.S.C. § 1341, occurs when a person schemes to or participates in a scheme to knowingly defraud or obtain money, goods, services, property, or anything of value under false or misleading pretenses using mail services. Mail services include U.S. Postal Services, commercial interstate mail carriers, and private mail services.
Defendants can face up to 20 years of imprisonment as well as fines for each mail fraud charge. These penalties can be increased if the fraudulent scheme victimized a financial institution, which includes any institution that is involved in the business of offering financial services to customers to maintain deposits, credit, trust, or other forms of financial accounts. A financial institute can include any:
- Insurance company
- Investment company
- Broker or dealer
- Finance company
- Credit card issuer
- Credit card system operator
Common Ways Mail Fraud Can Be Committed
Mail fraud schemes often involve sending people money, contracts, contest information, or other information or deals that are fraudulent. Common types of mail fraud schemes include:
- Employment fraud. These schemes occur when phony work-from-home, phone operator, or online job opportunities are sent via mail. Interest parties who receive the offer may offer personal information or money to receive equipment or training for work. Common employment fraud schemes are pyramid schemes, short-paid postage scams, mystery shopper or review scams, and franchise fraud.
- Financial fraud. Many mail fraud schemes are schemes meant to defraud people of funds or assets; common financial fraud schemes are Ponzi schemes and “900” telephone number frauds.
- Fraud against older Americans. The elderly are often targeted as victims of mail fraud schemes. Schemers send mail concerning Social Security refunds or Medicaid with the hope of obtaining their bank account information, or they commit reverse mortgage scams or counterfeit prescription scams.
- Fraud against veterans. Mail fraud schemes also commonly target veterans. People may send them mail claiming to also be servicemembers or a part of a charity or service that supports veterans to fraudulently obtain money, personal information, or something of value.
- Sweepstakes, giveaways, or lottery fraud. Mail fraud victims receive mail or communications that claim they are the winner or recipient of a prize or giveaway. Even if a person does not recall entering a contest, they will often pay a fee or share their account information to receive the prize.
- Telemarketing fraud. While many people hang up on telemarketers, some people may give them their personal or banking information after a great sale pitch or to hopefully get the telemarketer “off their back.”
- Small business schemes. Scammers may send brochures or fake business samples to people to receive money for a large purchase or order.
- Charity fraud. Mail fraud is often linked to schemes that involve sending out fake information about a charitable fund that people can support. This type of mail fraud often targets veterans and people during election season.
Backed by over five decades of experience, Brickfield & Donahue is equipped to help you mount a solid defense against federal mail fraud charges. Call 201-574-7919 or complete this online form today to schedule a free case consultation.