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Mail fraud and the internet

When a crime of deceit crosses New York borders through the use of a private interstate carrier or the U.S. Postal Service, it becomes mail fraud. One of the most common federal criminal charges, it includes a variety of schemes intended to defraud victims.

According to FindLaw, mail fraud typically involves sending a physical item, such as a receipt, contract or other communication associated with the scam, across state borders. Deceits of this nature often include exchanging, distributing, selling, supplying or using counterfeits. They may also focus on obtaining money or property under false pretenses.

Spamlaws.com reports that the internet has made schemes such as mail-order products, auction scams and impersonation easier and more lucrative than in the past. Individuals intent on misrepresenting products can promote high-quality items on a website that seems legitimate, then ship the buyer a lower quality item at the higher price, or not ship anything at all.

Internet auctions qualify as mail fraud if the hoax involves using emails at any time. This type of communication may include contacting a potential victim, initiating the fraud, or requesting money be sent for non-existent items.

Any communication sent across state lines, misrepresenting the identity of the sender also constitutes mail fraud. Emulating letters from legitimate businesses, or the U.S. Government requesting banking information or other personal data are among the most common impersonation scams. They may result in identity theft, which can adversely affect a victim’s life for years.

Each item sent with the intent to obtain goods, money or information illegally is a case of fraud. As a result, when Postal Inspectors thoroughly investigate scam reports and take legal action, they may file dozens, hundreds or thousands of charges against the instigators. Each charge can carry a fine and a prison sentence up to 20 years.

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