Mail Fraud: What You Need to Know

Mail fraud - what you need to know

Do you know someone that has been charged with mail fraud?

When you think of the crimes of those individuals that are sitting in a prison cell have committed, mail fraud might not be the first offense that comes to your mind. However, mail fraud is a federal offense that has serious consequences. The penalties are extreme including high fines, long prison sentences, possible probation, and restitution fees.

Mail Fraud Definition

Mail fraud has been a federal crime since 1872 in the United States and includes any scheme to intentionally defraud another of money or property by mail. With an amendment that was made in 1988 to the federal mail fraud law that included the term “scheme to defraud,” it has become the most frequently prosecuted federal laws. According to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, “The use of the U.S. Mail is what makes it mail fraud.”

That makes mail fraud come up in many cases. Without knowing, a person being investigated for a mail fraud crime can directly impact the investigation if they speak to investigators without legal representation. Becoming aware of the penalties of a mail fraud crime will help to create an awareness of the importance of having legal representation.

Mail Fraud Penalties

When facing mail fraud charges, it is important to understand the possible penalties that one could be charged with. The specific penalty a court imposes will be based on the circumstances which will vary from case to case. In each case, the potential penalties are significant.


A conviction for a single count of mail fraud can result in a fine of up to $250,000. For the cases in which fraud was involved in financial institutions or federal disaster relief the fines will be more significant and can be up to $1 Million per offense.


When it comes to mail fraud, fines are not the only concern. The potential for prison time is a real possibility. Each offense can result in a sentence for up to 20 years in federal prison. When federal disaster relief or victims of a financial instruction are involved the sentence can be more severe and can be up to 30 years per offense.


For those who are convicted of a mail fraud offense, serving probation is a possible option in lieu of prison time. When a person is under probation, the time can vary. Typically, the probation time is one to three years, however, it can be more. The individual will need to abide by the conditions of their probation such as: reporting to a probation monitor, submitting to random home searches, not committing other crimes, and random drug tests.


In addition, restitution payments are another possible financial penalty in mail fraud. When a mail fraud scheme impacts a victim’s property or caused them harm, a financial payment will be asked to recover the loss as a result of the fraud. This is a payment that will be paid in addition to the other fines.

Speak with an Attorney

If you are or someone you know is being charged or investigated for mail fraud, it is crucial you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. The penalties for mail fraud are severe including:

  • High fines
  • Prison time
  • Probation, and
  • Restitution fees

In conclusion, getting advice from an experienced criminal defense attorney is important to ensure that you are protected every step of the process.

The David J. Kramer Law Firm PLLC has the experience to help with mail fraud charges. Do not hesitate to call now. We are ready to help you.

248-348-7400 or 586-530-1000