Mail fraud occurs when a person uses the United States Postal Service (USPS) to defraud someone of property or money. Mail fraud is a federal crime. A person is guilty of mail fraud if:
- They devise a scheme to defraud – such schemes include plans to obtain money or property by means of false pretenses
- The person must use the United States Postal Service to mail material used for the purpose of carrying out the scheme
The initial contact can be over the phone, through e-mail, or the internet, as long as the U.S. mail is used to carry out part of the fraud.
A scheme to defraud is often characterized as a plan to obtain money or property by using false statements.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service maintains a list of common mail fraud schemes and their descriptions. Some common examples include:
- Franchise fraud
- Work-at-Home schemes
- Ponzi schemes
- Fraud targeted at the elderly
- Sweepstakes fraud
- Credit card fraud
If you have been a victim of mail fraud, you can file a mail fraud complaint with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. They will investigate matters with a number of consumer complaints, but cannot recover any lost property or money for you.
If you have been defrauded and lost money or property as a result, you should also contact an attorney who can evaluate your claim and ability to recover.
If you are a victim of mail fraud, an attorney may be able to help you recover your losses. If you are accused of mail fraud, a criminal defense attorney can be crucial in helping you navigate the complex federal legal procedures and provide you with the best legal options and defenses available.