Mail fraud is a serious offense and if a person is charged with this federal crime, it can be hard to know what to do next. Mail fraud occurs when a person uses the U.S. Postal Service or other similar mail services for fraudulent purposes.
Mail fraud can include making false representations, fraudulent billing, financial schemes and identity theft. For example, if a person uses the mail to scam others into believing they have won the lottery, are contributing to a charity that does not exist, or investing in a fake product or company, that may be mail fraud.
It is also against the law to send false invoices through the mail to others for services or goods that were not provided and to use the mail to fraudulently obtain personal information like a credit card number.
Penalties and potential defenses
A person convicted of mail fraud may face 20 years to life in prison, several hundred thousand dollars in fines and may be required to repay the victims for their losses.
There are several defenses to consider, however. If the sender did not have the intent to defraud another person, that may be a defense. Duress may also be used as a defense. Duress means that the sender was forced to participate in the fraud.
If the sender acted in good faith when sending the mail, they may also use that as a defense. For example, if the sender sincerely believed they were using the U.S. Postal Service to send legitimate mail.
These are only some examples of defenses that may be available to the sender.