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What is mail fraud?

On Behalf of | Dec 9, 2020 | Criminal defense

In North Carolina, federal crimes are often met with severe penalties. If you are facing any sort of federal criminal charge, you stand to lose a lot if you end up convicted. 

This is true of the white collar crime known as mail fraud. But what is it? What are the penalties? And why is this considered a felony in the first place? 

Identifying fraud and intent

The Congressional Research Service takes a close look at mail fraud. First, mail fraud is a type of fraud charge involving the United States postal system. In short, fraud involves plans that attempt to separate a person from their money, assets or access to honest services. Mail fraud uses the mail to further this goal. 

With mail fraud, any type of item sent through any postal service counts. This means using private and public couriers. It also means the use of packages, letters, post cards and more. 

Why is mail fraud a felony?

Mail fraud is a felony due to this use of the United States postal system. Because this is a government entity, committing a crime using the post is a felony. Even if you use a private carrier instead of the United States Postal Service, it still goes through the U.S. postal system. 

If convicted of mail fraud, you face a fine of up to $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for organizations. You also face up to 20 years in prison. In the event that a fraud scheme targeted a financial institution or took advantage of a natural disaster, this changes. You may face up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million.