Everything You Need to Know About Mail Fraud
Mail fraud is one of the most common types of federal criminal charges. Interested in learning about what mail fraud is and how much jail time you could get? Keep reading to find out.
What Is Mail Fraud?
Mail fraud is simply any fraudulent scheme that involves the mail. However, the exact definition of this crime is a little complex. First of all, it is important to understand what qualifies as fraud. Fraud occurs whenever a person purposefully misrepresents essential facts for the purpose of gaining material property from somewhat else.
There are all sorts of ways that fraud can transition into mail fraud. A crime becomes mail fraud when the United States Postal Service, FedEx, UPS, or any other carrier are unwittingly involved in the fraud. The definition of mail fraud includes sending materials through the mail, receiving materials through the mail, or encouraging others to send or receive materials through the mail.
Examples of Mail Fraud
There are many different fraudulent schemes that use the mail. To better understand the definition of mail fraud, it can be helpful to look at a few examples of common types of mail fraud.
- Mailing a person fake credit card applications and then using the information they supply to steal their identity.
- Sending letters asking people to give you money as part of a Ponzi scheme or other fraudulent investment scene.
- Promising to ship someone a product, accepting their money, and then shipping an inferior product instead.
- Shipping flyers to promote an event for a fake charity and then using the event to steal money from unsuspecting donors.
- Getting an associate to ship you counterfeit documents that you then use in a fraudulent scheme.
Mail Fraud vs. Regular Fraud
Compared to regular fraud, mail fraud charges can be a bit more severe. The issue is that mail fraud counts as a federal crime because it typically involves multiple states or a department of the federal government. When a crime becomes a federal crime, you could face far more severe consequences. The crime will also be tried in federal court, and you risk ending up in federal prison.
If you are convicted of mail fraud, you can face up to 20 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines. Furthermore, you will have to forfeit any assets you gained through the crime and make financial restitution to the victims. These consequences are significantly worse than the $15,000 fine and the five years in prison you would face if charged with regular fraud.
Defending Yourself Against Mail Fraud Charges
Most defenses to these charges rely on showing that your activities didn’t actually meet the definition of mail fraud. To convict you of mail fraud, the prosecution has to be able to show that mail was somehow involved in your scheme. If your Morristown criminal defense lawyer can at least show that you were not using the mail for your scheme, you might be able to get your charges downgraded to regular fraud.
Another option is showing that you were not actually intending to commit fraud. You could claim that you actually believed the false facts you stated were true, or you could show that any false claims you made had nothing to do with the money a person sent you. In addition to these sorts of defenses, you may have other options like claiming someone else was responsible for the fraud or saying there isn’t enough evidence linking you to the fraud.
If you’re looking for a New Jersey mail fraud lawyer, the law office of Gregg Wisotsky is here to help. As a leading Morristown criminal defense lawyer, we have plenty of experience handling these sorts of criminal cases. Our team can assist you with navigating the criminal justice system and preparing an effective defense. Call 973-898-0161 or fill out our contact form to learn more about our services.