Mail fraud is a practice that has steadily been on the rise especially in first-world nations such as the United States of America.
This has prompted several governments to declare it a crime that is punishable by law.
Essentially, mail fraud is when someone formulates (or intends to formulate) any scheme with a purpose of obtaining money under fraudulent circumstances, or exchanges any counterfeit coin or currency through the aid postal facilities.
Elements of Mail Fraud
There are three elements of mail fraud:
1. Intent: this is when someone intends to carry out mail fraud.
2. Obtaining money through fraudulent means. In other words, this is soliciting money from a third party through means which are deemed unlawful.
3. Mail communication. This is when people communicate with each other through the facilities of the postal service. For one to prove that mail fraud has actually occurred he or she must give evidence of misrepresentation.
This is due to the fact that fraudsters have become more and more crafty and have now begun using international mailing companies to hide their identity.
This raises difficulty in tracing these criminals since foreign mailings are not included.
Forms of Mail Fraud
There are various forms of mail fraud, such as:
- financial fraud
- charity fraud
- creditor or debit card fraud
- oil and gas investment fraud
- land fraud
- solicitations disguised as invoices
- Ponzi schemes
- advance fee loan schemes
- employment fraud
- distributorship and franchise fraud
- fake job opportunities
- pyramid schemes
- postal job scams
- work-at-home schemes
- lottery fraud
- free prize schemes
- free vacation scams
- chain letters
- telemarketing fraud
- land sale fraud
- insurance fraud
Penalties for Mail Fraud
Contrary to common belief, mail fraud is a serious offense that is punishable by law.
The governments of various countries such as the United States of America have put in place heavy penalties on mail fraud offenses so as to discourage people from committing them.
The offender may face a jail term of no more than twenty years.
There are various bodies put in place to investigate matters such as missing mail and generally, mail fraud.
For example, the United States Postal Inspection Service investigates cases of mail fraud in the USA.