Because the United States Postal Service is a federal organization, conducting mail fraud in New York or elsewhere in the country is a federal crime. If you are convicted, it may lead to extremely serious consequences. However, five conditions have to be met before an act is considered mail fraud, according to the Cornell University Law School’s Legal Information Institute.
These include the following:
- You were involved in a plan to deceive someone in order to take his or her money.
- Your plan included the use of false statements or left out important information.
- If your plan succeeded, it caused or would have caused someone to lose money, property or honest services.
- In advancing or developing your plan, you used the U.S. mail.
- You used the U.S. mail, or you caused its use.
The U.S. statute dealing with mail fraud elaborates on the use of the U.S. mail, stating that it includes activities such as dropping something off at the post office or with a USPS letter carrier to be delivered, or having someone else do it for you. The penalty for a mail fraud conviction is typically fines and/or up to 20 years in prison.
It is also illegal for you to use a fake name or address to conduct such a plan, whether to send or to receive mail through the USPS. If you are convicted under this federal statute, you may receive a prison sentence of up to five years and/or fines. More information about federal mail fraud statutes is available on our web page.