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Practical Information About Mail Fraud

If you have been accused of committing a crime through the United States Postal Service, a Montclair lawyer can defend your case based on a lack of intent. These defense strategies are intended to help innocent clients avoid harsh fines, imprisonment and financial penalties.

Defining Mail Fraud

Mail fraud is a crime that’s defined in Frauds and Swindles, 18 U.S. Code § 1341. This law applies anytime someone attempts to cheat a member of the public by sending documents through the United States Postal Service. Mail fraud covers illegal sweepstakes, lotteries, work-at-home offers and scams where people are tricked into sending money but get nothing in return. Unfortunately, laws regarding mail fraud are exceptionally broad and can be used against anyone who uses the postal system or another major shipping company.

Elements of a Federal Case

To build a case, federal prosecutors must prove that you intended to swindle money from members of the public. If you send out mailers for the sole purpose of tricking consumers into giving you money with nothing in return, it is mail fraud. However, if you provide any product or service in return, there is no intent or fraud.

Advertisements and Sales Letters

If your company sends out mass mailers with eye-catching advertising checks and special offers, you can only be held liable for fraud if there was no disclaimer stating that the check could only be used as a rebate for your company’s product or service. There is no law in New Jersey or in the United States against sending out sales letters, but there are laws that protect the public from material misrepresentations. To qualify, the misrepresentation must have directly influenced a person into sending money or assets. Penalties also apply if marketing materials were part of a larger scheme to defraud the public. There is intent even if a scheme fails and no money was collected.

Contact a Montclair Mail Fraud Lawyer

Mail fraud is a serious offense. If you have been charged or are under investigation, contact Montclair mail fraud lawyer Lorraine Gauli-Rufo at 973-239-4300 to discuss your case.

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