Wire and mail fraud exist as two separate crimes that share many characteristics. Though they have similar definitions and penalties, they still count as different issues.
What should you know about both? How does the law define both wire and mail fraud?
Defining wire and mail fraud
The United States Department of Justice Archives takes a look at both wire and mail fraud. These types of fraud exist on the same basis: it involves the goal of defrauding an individual. This means the individual targeted will lose assets, money, finances or access to honest services.
The main difference between the two lies in how a person carries out the fraudulent activities. Mail fraud primarily focuses on the use of the United States Postal Service in the plan. This can include letters, postcards, boxes, magazines and anything else sent through the physical mail.
On the other hand, wire fraud involves communication that takes place over wire transfer or electronics. This can include telephone calls, faxes, emails, text messages, posts on message boards and more.
The penalties for fraud
The punishments for each hold many similarities, too. Typically, a person could face up to 20 years in jail for both. Potential fines can range up to $250,000 or even $500,000.
However, there are cases where the jail time can rise to up to 30 years, with a potential fine of $1 million. These cases typically involve financial institutions or the use of natural disasters in a fraudulent scheme.
Thus, in either case, the outcome is severe for a person accused of fraud.