It may come as a surprise that the penalties for mail fraud are extremely harsh. After all, we all frequently receive “offers” in our mailboxes that seem a too good to be true. Surely, it would seem, outrageous offers don’t seem to be a concern. Most of the time, those letters end up in the recycling bin, where they belong. Unfortunately, however, some of those “offers” fraudulently persuade victims to hand over money or secure information. This is just one form of mail fraud, and it can carry heavy sentences for the perpetrator: Restitution, fines, probation, and even prison time. In this article, we’ll go over a few types of mail fraud, an example of what the penalties may be, and what to do if you are facing mail fraud charges.
Types of Mail Fraud
In essence, mail fraud is any attempt to defraud someone using any mail system. For the act to be mail fraud, the perpetrator must have intentionally attempted to defraud someone, he or she must have provided false (or purposefully incomplete) information through the mail, and the scheme must have been intended to wrongfully take someone’s money or private information. A few specific types of mail fraud include:
- Employment fraud. This is when a scammer makes false offers of employment, such as work-at-home schemes, or even offers participation in Ponzi schemes.
- Financial fraud. Scammers may send phony invoices, fraudulent loan offers, or letters trying to persuade victims to give out credit card information.
- Fraud against senior citizens. Many older people are vulnerable targets, since they may not understand new technology or business practices. Scammers often ask elders for information about social security, or offer them false rebates.
Prosecuting Mail Fraud
The government investigates all instances of suspected mail fraud, and these crimes are classified as federal offenses. In one high-profile case, a woman named Johna Loreen Vandemore in Iowa attempted to defraud a man she had briefly been romantically involved with. Following the end of their relationship, she demanded financial support from him for a child that did not exist. She sent him requests for money, with the threat that if he did not comply, she would take him to court for more. When he asked for proof of the child, she mailed him a false birth certificate from a hospital that did not exist. Vandemore also sent him falsified medical bills, asking for reimbursement. She succeeded in tricking the man into sending her checks totalling $95,850 before her husband caught her. Vandemore pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to 18 months in prison. She was also ordered to pay restitution to the victim, and pay a fine towards the Crime Victims Fund.
Facing Mail Fraud Charges? Seek Legal Counsel
If you are being accused of mail fraud, know that the stakes are very high. You should immediately seek a skilled attorney who can defend you against these charges and help you seek to avoid prison time. To review your mail fraud case, contact us at the Law Offices of Omar Gastelum & Associates.