Mail Fraud

18 U.S.C. § 1341 (2005).

The Crime

Section 1341 is a rather dense and convoluted statute. Under this section, it is a crime

  • for a person who has devised or intends to devise any scheme or artifice
    • to defraud, or
    • the Environmental Protection Agency; see United States v. White, 270 F.3d 356 (6th Cir. 2001);
    • to sell, dispose of, loan, exchange, alter, give away, distribute, supply, or furnish or procure for unlawful use any
      • counterfeit or spurious coin, obligation, security, or other article, or
      • anything represented to be or intimated or held out to be such counterfeit or spurious article,
    • for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice,
  • to place in any post office or authorized depository for mail matter,
  • any matter or thing whatever to be sent or delivered by the Postal Service, or
  • to deposit or cause to be deposited any matter or thing whatever to be sent or delivered by any private or commercial interstate carrier, or
  • to take or receive therefrom, any such matter or thing, or
  • to knowingly cause to be delivered by mail or such carrier according to the direction thereon, or
  • at the place at which it is directed to be delivered by the person to whom it is addressed,
  • any such matter or thing, 18 U.S.C. § 1341 (2005).

In many ways, it is just simpler to realize that mail fraud is primarily devising a scheme or artifice to defraud and then using the nation's mail system to carry that scheme out.

The Punishment

The punishment under section 1341 is

  • a fine, imprisonment for not more than 20 years, or both.

If the violation affects a financial institution, the punishment is

  • a fine of not more than $ 1,000,000, imprisonment for not more than 30 years, or both. 18 U.S.C. § 1341 (2005).