Robert W. Davis, Jr.,
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How can mail fraud be a federal crime?

On Behalf of | Jun 13, 2024 | Federal Criminal Defense |

Using someone else’s information to receive items in the mail without their consent is both a state and federal crime. In Mississippi, as in many other states, such actions fall under the category of identity theft and fraud,

Stealing someone’s identity

Mississippi has an existing Identity Theft Protection Act. This law makes it illegal to use another person’s identifying information without their permission to obtain items, services or other benefits, including receiving goods in the mail. Identity theft can include using someone’s name, Social Security number, or credit card details. The state imposes strict penalties, which can include significant fines and imprisonment, depending on the severity and scope of the crime.

What makes it a federal crime?

While identity theft is a crime at the state level, it also falls under federal jurisdiction due to different factors. One of these is because most mail and package delivery routes are interstate and involve the United States Postal Service (USPS). The federal government considers this a serious crime for several reasons:

  • Interstate commerce: Many mail fraud and identity theft cases involve transactions and communications that cross state lines, thus affecting interstate commerce. The federal government can regulate interstate commerce, subjecting such activities to federal law.
  • Federal mail system: The USPS is a federally operated system. Any misuse of this system for fraudulent activities constitutes a federal offense.
  • Uniformity and enforcement: Federal laws allow for a uniform approach to addressing these crimes across all states. They also enable the use of federal resources for investigation and prosecution, which can be more extensive than those available at the state level.

The Mail Fraud Statute criminalizes using mail services to execute a scheme or fraud. Penalties for mail fraud can include hefty fines and imprisonment of up to 20 years or 30 years if the fraud affects a financial institution.

Utilizing someone else’s information to receive goods in the mail is a state and federal crime. The involvement of the federal mail system and the potential for interstate transactions elevate this offense to a federal level. If you or a loved one are facing mail fraud charges, you may consider seeking legal guidance to establish your rights and understand which course of action to take.


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