Key Elements of State & Federal Mail Fraud
Any fraud that involves US mail is mail fraud. Whether it’s committed in the mail, by phone or online, this crime is not taken lightly in Wisconsin and the United States as a whole. The US Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) reported that there were 441 mail fraud convictions in the fiscal year 2018.
Mail fraud is a federal crime.
As a result, the US Postal Service (USPS) strongly encourages people to report mail fraud and suspicious activity involving US mail. Thus, you must be careful and avoid a mail fraud conviction by retaining an experienced federal offense lawyer to aggressively defend your case.
Mail Fraud Defined
The US Department of Justice outlines two elements of mail fraud:
- Having devised or intending to devise a scheme to defraud or perform specified fraudulent acts
- Use of the mail to execute, or attempt to execute, the scheme or specified fraudulent acts
The USPS states that mail fraud is a scheme to get money or something of value by offering a product, service, or investment opportunity that does not live up to its claims. Prosecutors must prove the claims were intentionally misrepresented and that the mail was used to carry out the scheme.
Wisconsin statutes penalize mail fraud with a Class H felony charge punishable by up to $10,000 fines and/or up to 6 years in prison. Under these laws, whoever commits any of the following acts to commit a financial crime or sell, dispose of, loan, exchange, alter, give away, distribute, supply, furnish, or procure any counterfeit currency, obligation or security for an unlawful purpose is guilty of mail fraud:
- Deposits or causes any matter to be deposited in a United States post office or authorized depository for United States mail.
- Deposits or causes to be deposited any matter or thing to be sent or delivered by a commercial carrier.
- Takes or receives any matter or a thing sent or delivered by United States mail or by a commercial carrier.
Types of Mail Fraud
The USPIS describes types of mail fraud that include, but are not limited to:
- Fraud against older Americans: Oder groups, such as retirees, are highly impacted by fraudulent acts such as calls offering fake offers and promotions.
- Fraud against veterans: The USPIS reports that 78% of retired military members are targeted by mail fraud schemes involving benefits, employment and special discounts.
- Sweepstakes and lottery fraud: Scams announcing that you have won money or a vacation and require you to send money to claim your prize are fake.
- Employment fraud: People seeking employment may become victims of pyramid schemes, check-cashing schemes and fake job offers. Scammers may request victims’ personal information and bank details to “secure the position.”
- Telemarketing fraud: You may receive mail describing an attractive promotion or sale that prompts you to call an 800 toll-free or 900 number to claim it. When you do, a telemarketer may pressure you with bombarding sales tactics in attempts to access your personal information.
- Financial fraud: This type of fraud requires payment first for something like a new credit card without a credit check, an advance on a loan or an irresistible deal on a product or service.
Don’t let a mail fraud accusation put you behind bars. Our Milwaukee federal crimes defense attorney can utilize hard-hitting defense strategies to strengthen your case and better compel a jury to believe you’re innocent. To get started on fighting your mail fraud charges, call (414) 882-8382 now!