Fraud charges in general apply to white-collar crimes which tend to involve attempting to part a person from their money.
Mail fraud in specific often carries even heavier consequences, though. It is important to understand why mail fraud counts as a felony crime and carries related penalties.
Defining mail fraud
The Department of Justice discusses potential mail fraud charges and convictions. First, it is important to understand fraud in general and mail fraud in specific. Fraud crimes always relate to acts that intend to part a victim from their assets, money or access to honest services.
Mail fraud does this specifically through the use of the mail system. It can include postcards, magazines, letters, packages and more; essentially anything sent by mail. A typical example of a mail fraud scheme includes postcards asking for a donation to a charity that does not exist.
The penalties of a felony
So why is it considered a felony crime? Because of the involvement of the United States Postal Service (USPS), a government entity. Even if a person tries to send their mail through private couriers like FedEx, chances are high that it will end up passing through the USPS at some point, or use some element of the USPS structure.
Because of that, it is a felony crime and punishable by up to 20 years in prison and up to $500,000 in fines. However, if a person targeted an institution such as a bank, then they may face up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine maximum.
Needless to say, this is a huge impact on a person’s life and finances, and thus related charges should get taken seriously.