What Is Wire Fraud Versus Mail Fraud?

Wire and mail fraud both exist as similar crimes with similar penalties. However, there are a few distinctions between the two that change how the law views them.

What are these distinctions, and how much of an impact do they have on the potential penalties a person may face?

How wire and mail fraud get carried out

The United States Department of Justice defines wire fraud, along with mail fraud. Both of these are activities that intend to defraud a person, or strip them of their assets, property, money, or access to honest services.

The means of these fraud schemes may differ from situation to situation. The crucial part is that a person conducts the scheme with the specific intention of doing the aforementioned acts.

To that end, the major difference between the two is the manner in which a person carries them out. With mail fraud, a person uses the United States Postal Service as a way of conducting their fraud. This can include letters, boxes, postcards, magazines sent by mail, and more.

As for wire fraud, this utilizes systems of wires or electronics to carry out fraudulent activities. This can include the telephone, faxing, emails, message boards, text messages and more.

The penalties of both

The two types of fraud carry similar penalties. For example, people convicted of wire fraud face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. People facing mail fraud face similar penalties.

Two subsets of mail fraud exist and wire fraud which may result in a fine of up to $1 million, too. This also comes with a possibility of 30 years in prison. Thus, both crimes have a hefty price tag attached.

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