Mail Fraud

Mail Fraud

The United States Postal Service (USPS) delivers literally billions of mail items per year. Scattered among the mundane flyers, magazines, and coupon booklets are valuable items that some thieves go to great lengths to steal:

  • Credit cards
  • Bank cards
  • Checks
  • Merchandise ordered online
  • Prescription medication

Thieves also target credit card applications, government-issued correspondence, and anything else that contains enough personal information to help them assume someone’s identity. Then they use those details to carry out fraudulent financial transactions.

To be convicted of mail theft, you must do one or more of the following:

  • Take mail from any authorized place to put or store it, such as a mailbox, post office, or letter carrier’s bag
  • Use fraud or deception to obtain this mail
  • Open the mail and remove its contents
  • Hide or destroy any of the mail
  • Purchase or receive mail that you know to be stolen

Because the USPS is a government agency, mail theft is prosecuted as a federal crime. If you are found guilty of violating 18 U.S. Code § 1708, which covers theft or receipt of stolen mail, then you can be fined heavily and spend up to five years in a federal prison.

Certain offenses associated with mail theft can be prosecuted in a New York state court. If you use stolen mail items to assume someone else’s identity and obtain money, goods, or services in their name, you can be charged with Identity Theft in the Third Degree, a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a year in jail and / or a $1,000 fine. If the value of the stolen benefits exceeds $500, prosecutors will bump up the charge to Identity Theft in the Second Degree, a Class E felony that can send you to prison for four years. Using someone’s else’s identity to steal over $2,000 in cash, merchandise, or services is Identity Theft in the First Degree, a Class D felony punishable by up to seven years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

It doesn’t end there. If you take a credit card found in the mail, then use it to make a purchase, and sign the transaction record as if you were the card’s legal owner, you can be charged with Forgery in the Second Degree, a Class D felony that will also automatically bump up any identity theft charge to Identity Theft in the First Degree.

If you are charged with theft of U.S. mail and / or any crimes stemming from this particular offense, then contact a New York criminal defense attorney with experience in defending cases in both federal and state courts. A conviction in either jurisdiction has serious consequences on your personal and professional future, so retain an attorney before you make any statement to the authorities.

Your mail theft defense attorney will go over your case and discuss possible defense options. Did you know that the mail in your possession was stolen? Was the evidence against you the result of an illegal search and seizure? Although no New York defense attorney can guarantee any outcome to a case, he or she will use their knowledge and experience to conceive the best course of action for your circumstances.