What is mail fraud?

On Behalf of | Apr 26, 2024 | Criminal justice |

Mail fraud is a serious crime that involves using the postal system to deceive others for financial gain or to obtain valuable information illegally.

It includes a range of fraudulent activities such as sending false advertisements, fake lottery scams and phishing schemes.

Elements of mail fraud

According to Wintrust, cases of mail fraud have increased by 400% since 2019. To commit mail fraud, several elements must be present. There must be a scheme or plan to defraud someone. This could involve making false promises, misrepresenting facts or using deceptive tactics to trick individuals or businesses. The scheme must use the United States Postal Service or a private mail carrier to carry out the fraudulent activity. The perpetrator must have the intent to deceive or defraud others for personal gain.

Common types of mail fraud

One prevalent form of mail fraud is the notorious advance fee scam, where the perpetrator promises people a large sum of money in exchange for a small upfront payment. Once the individual makes the payment, the promised funds never materialize. Another common scheme involves sending fake invoices or billing statements to individuals or companies, tricking them into paying for goods or services they never received.

Consequences of mail fraud

The consequences of engaging in mail fraud can be severe. Upon conviction, those accused of this crime may face hefty fines, imprisonment or both. Individuals or businesses affected by mail fraud may suffer financial losses, damage to their reputations and emotional distress.

Preventing mail fraud

To protect yourself from mail fraud, remain vigilant and skeptical of unsolicited mail, especially if it promises unrealistic returns or requests personal information. Be cautious when providing sensitive information, such as your Social Security number or financial details, and always verify the legitimacy of any offers or requests.

Despite the common use of email and text messages, there are still people committing fraud through the postal system.