Avoid Federal Charges this Holiday Season
According to the US Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), any fraud that involves the US mail is mail fraud, whether it originates in the mail, by phone, or online. As such, you should be aware of the following types of mail fraud that federal agencies such as the FBI and USPIS, are watching out for.
Fraud against older Americans
Senior citizens are often targeted by mail fraud schemes involving Medicare and health insurance scams, phony prescription drugs, funeral, and cemetery scams, fake anti-aging products, investment schemes, and more. Older Americans tend to be more vulnerable to these types of scams and unknowingly participate in them as a result.
Fraud against Veterans
The USPIS reports that 78% of retired military men and women have been targeted by scams involving fraudulent claims concerning benefits, employment, and exclusive discounts. Since many military veterans suffer from PTSD, anxiety, and depression, and tend to trust their fellow military members without giving a second thought, they may become victims of these types of mail fraud crimes.
Sweepstakes and lottery fraud
These scams typically begin with a call, email, or piece of direct mail offering congratulations to victims for winning a “contest.” To claim the “prize,” victims are asked to send money, personal information, or bank details. According to the Federal Trade Commission, there were 125,000 reports of fraud in 2019 involving prizes, sweepstakes, and lotteries, totaling an average loss of $860 per victim.
Scams such as pyramid schemes, check-cashing schemes, and phony job offers are among the most common types of employment fraud, which is defined by the USPIS as an attempt to deceive people who are seeking employment by giving them false hope. These scams request victims' personal information, bank details, or buy-in to secure a job, which doesn't actually turn out to be a real job.
This offense often begins with postcards or letters in the mail offering an attractive deal or promotion and asks victims to call a 900 number or toll-free 800 number. When they call either number, victims are confronted with a convincing sales pitch or high-pressure tactics from a telemarketer in attempts to trick them into handing over their personal information.
Deception that uses financial transactions for personal gain is financial fraud. These schemes require payment before receiving something, such as a new credit card without a credit check, an advance on a loan, or a too-good-to-be-true deal on a product or service.
Other mail fraud scams
Brochures offering services for too-good-to-be-true prices, fake inheritance notifications, and notices asking for payment in exchange for free services are among other types of mail fraud. They often use US mail to persuade people to send money.
Mail Fraud Laws and Penalties
If you are charged with mail fraud, you could face up to 20 years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines if convicted. There are two elements of mail fraud that the prosecution has the burden of proving to convict you of this offense:
- You devised or intended to devise a scheme to defraud (or to perform specified fraudulent acts)
- You used US mail for the purpose of executing, or attempting to execute, the scheme (or specified fraudulent acts)
While it can be overwhelming to think about how your holidays can turn from merry to scary in an instant, you may find hope in knowing that your case may be defendable. When you retain the representation of our Baton Rouge federal criminal defense lawyers, we will invest the time, attention, and resources needed to help get your charges reduced or dropped altogether.
Call The Ambeau Law Firm at (225) 330-7009 to begin your defense today!