But just why is mail fraud so heavily punished? And what are the penalties?
How The Law Defines Mail Fraud
The Congressional Research Service examines mail fraud and its related penalties. First, the penalties are high because mail fraud is a felony and federal crime. Why? Because of the use of the United States postal system. Mail fraud involves the use of mail, whether this includes letters, packages, postcards or more. It does not matter if you use a private or public courier, either. All mail travels through the federal post.
Punishment For Mail Fraud Convictions
If convicted, you face imprisonment for up to 20 years along with a fine. For individuals, the fine is up to $250,000. For organizations, it is up to $500,000. If you take advantage of a natural disaster or financial institution, the stakes rise. You could face up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million.
But the penalties do not end there. You could also face probation and restitution or forfeiture orders. A restitution order demands that you pay the damages that the other party faced due to the fraud plan. This could be a massive debt on top of the fines you face initially.
Finally, there is the stigma of having a felony on record. This can interfere with your ability to get a job or find housing in the future, which lasts long after your release from prison.