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Recognizing and Avoiding Mail and Wire Fraud Schemes

Filed under Detecting & Deterring Fraud. Fact checked on May 24, 2012.

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Mail and wire fraud involves crimes that violate federal laws because the frauds utilize the United States Postal Service or other interstate means of communication.

Mail, wire and related frauds are federal crimes where the perpetrator has devised a scheme to defraud someone and has attempted to carry it out by using the U.S. Postal Service, or an interstate use of electronic means of communication such as a phone, a telegram, a fax, or the Internet.

The Fraud: A random few of the many, many examples of mail and wire fraud include things like sending fake invoices, running crooked online auctions, or even something as simple as stealing from a neighbor's mailbox to find checks or prescriptions or credit cards offers and the like.

Tip

So many frauds involve the mail or interstate communication that the mail and wire fraud laws are used for the purpose of stiffening the penalties for perpetrating all sorts of other kinds of frauds. Or, when evidence is not immediately present to charge an individual with federal fraud, mail and or wire fraud are useful prosecutorial weapons to get the case going.

The Flaw: The flaw that permits mail, wire, Internet and similar frauds is nothing but old fashioned gullibility. "Congratulations! You've just won a brand new Cadillac! (or time-share, or trip to Paris, etc.). All you need to do is send in the "processing fee" . . . !"

The Fix: If something sounds too good to be true, it is! Don't fall for it.

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