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The basics of mail fraud

On Behalf of | Feb 15, 2021 | Uncategorized |

Federal crimes cover several types of offenses in Mississippi that get charged under federal law. They often come with stiffer penalties than state charges, so it’s important to work with a defense lawyer to understand the charges. Mail fraud commonly gets charged as a federal offense.

Definition of mail fraud

Mail fraud means using the mail as a means to sell property or otherwise profit with the intention to deceive. The first mail fraud laws originated in 1872 applying to people who were misusing the U.S. mail system for deception.

The law originally prosecuted crimes that involved property and money, but Congress expanded that law in 1948 to include mail fraud as meaning any service or scheme intended for fraudulent purposes using postal services. The expansion of the law also made using international carriers, such as FedEx, a crime.

The original Ponzi scheme is among the most famous mail fraud crimes in history. It takes its name from a scammer named Charles Ponzi and involved pre-paid postal coupons to encourage foreign replies. Modern Ponzi schemes may or may not use mail, but they involve fraudulent investments.

Mail fraud prosecution

Besides federal charges, mail fraud may result in a racketeering charge and charges under the RICO Act if the defendant committed fraud with other people. Mail fraud often comes with a penalty of up to 20 years in prison, victim restitution and court fines.

Fees for mail fraud could run from $250,000 for a single charge to $1 million for fraud involving financial institutions or disaster relief. Mail fraud charges may also include probation, which means the defendant must follow the conditions that the court assigns to them.

The law takes federal crimes seriously, but the prosecution has to prove their case in order to obtain a conviction. The defendant should seek an experienced defense team to help fight the charges.