Mail and Wire Fraud Scams: A Federal offense

Since 1872, the American Federal Law prohibits mail and wire fraud. Cases involving such charges are considered complicated. If one has been charged with Mail and Wire Fraud, understanding the basics is vital. Anyone attempting to intentionally deprive an innocent person of his/her property, or services via mail or wire communication, is an offense of court.

What are mail and wire fraud?

Mail and wire fraud are considered federal crimes in the United States.  Such frauds involve mailing or electronically transmitting anything associated with frauds or scams. Anyone trying to scam an individual or a group of people of value (usually in the forms of money or property) via any mode of communication (like emails, phones, radio, telegram, instant messaging, social media messaging, etc.) is considered mail and wire fraud. Both are treated under the same law and participants of the scams are punishable under the law for twenty years.

Elements of mail and wire fraud offense

If one is considered guilty of mail and wire fraud, the following elements must be proven in the Federal Court.

  • False and misrepresentation schemes to defraud
  • The use of mail, wire, or television communication to execute the fraudulent scheme
  • The intention to scam another individual is for money or property

The use of mail is not restricted to the United States Postal Service. Private courier providers like FedEx, UPS, etc., can also cater to Mail and Wire Fraud as long as there is an interstate operation of the courier company involved.

What is referred to as the intent of crime?

The intent is a key part of any mail and wire fraud case. Since such frauds are specific intent crimes, it is necessary to prove the following.

  • There has been an intention to deceive via the use of a scam scheme
  • Participating in the scheme with the knowledge that it is a fraud
  • Harm the victim using the fraudulent scheme

Mail and wire fraud penalties

Since it is considered a contempt of court, the fraudster is charged with a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment and a fine of not more than $250,000 for individual criminals, and $500,000 for organizations carrying frauds. Moreover, under the alternative fine provision, the fine charges can be double the amount of the victim’s gain or loss exceeding $2500,000, or $500,000. The court also has the power to charge consecutive sentences for multiple mail fraud and wire fraud charges.

A person convicted of mail and wire fraud may be charged in any state from where the message was sent. For example, if an accused is in New York, and sent emails to business partners in Colorado, Illinois, and Nebraska with the intention of a  fraudulent scheme, he/she can be federally charged with mail and wire fraud in all three states where the message was sent.


Accusations and charges against Mail and Wire Fraud if proved are serious offenses resulting in hefty fines and imprisonment. It is an altogether different genre of law that requires specialized expertise. If an individual or an organization is charged with such frauds, consulting professional and experienced mail and wire fraud attorney is recommended.