Recently, five men from the Bronx were charged with mail fraud by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. The men allegedly sent letters throughout the state claiming that the recipient’s grandchildren had been arrested and needed money. From July to October 2020, the men collected UPS and FedEx packages containing thousands of dollars sent by the victims.
Charges of mail fraud are some of the most common of all federal offenses. It is also one of the most serious and it carries harsh penalties for anyone who is convicted. If you have been charged, it is important to speak to an Allentown criminal defense lawyer that can help with your case.
What is Mail Fraud?
Mail fraud is a criminal offense that occurs when someone engages in a scheme to defraud, with intent to defraud, and they use the mail to further that scheme. A scheme to defraud means depriving someone of their own property using dishonest or deceitful means. The property can either be tangible or intangible, such as cash or information.
It is important to note that a person must have the intention of depriving someone of their property. If someone uses the mail and they believe their actions and statements are honest and truthful, they cannot be charged with mail fraud.
To use the mail to further a scheme only means to use the mail as part of the attempt to defraud. Even if the mailing is only incidental to an essential component of the scheme, a person can still face charges. A person may also be charged if they only caused the mailing, but did not actually place the fraudulent material in the mail.
Lastly, while criminal offenses involving the United States Postal Service certainly constitute mail fraud, Congress changed the law in 1994 to also include private carriers, such as UPS and FedEx.
Penalties for Mail Fraud
Even though mail fraud is a non-violent offense, it is one of the most serious federal crimes a person can be charged with. For those convicted, the offense is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison, a maximum $250,000 fine, and they may also be required to pay restitution to the victims. If the crime involved a financial institution, such as a bank, the penalties increase to up to 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1,000,000.
Our Criminal Defense Lawyer in Allentown Can Help with Your Charges
Mail fraud is a very serious criminal offense and a conviction will have drastic consequences for your future. If you have been charged, our Allentown criminal defense lawyer at van der Veen, Hartshorn and Levin, can help you beat the charges. We know the defenses to this offense and will build a strong case to give you the best chance of a successful outcome. Call us today at 215-515-6892 or contact us online to schedule a consultation and to learn more about how we can help.