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How does wire fraud differ from mail fraud?

On Behalf of | Oct 8, 2021 | Fraud

Fraud is a white-collar crime that has one overall definition but several different circumstances and processes. The United States Department of Justice notes that fraud is the intentional act of misleading another with the intent to do so.

Each type of fraud carries its own penalties, and there is a definite difference between wire and mail fraud, the punishments for each and how the courts perceive them.

Mail fraud

The key difference between wire and mail fraud is how perpetrators use them to commit alleged crimes. Mail fraud includes several different schemes, including:

  • Mailing fraudulent cash giveaway contests
  • Using the U.S. mail to exchange fraudulent gift cards/checks
  • Any mailed item that furthers a fraudulent action

In most cases, providing proof of the intent to fraud is what can make or break a mail fraud case. The same is true of wire fraud, which shares many legal similarities with the type committed by mail.

Wire fraud

Wire fraud carries many of the same penalties as mail fraud, only the alleged criminal uses a telephone or computer to further his or her plan. For example, someone committing wire fraud might use text messages to tell random phone users they won a prize, usually a cash reward, and to follow a link for more details. This link often leaves spyware or malware on a user’s phone so the person committing the fraud can gain access to his or her personal information.

Both mail and wire fraud are felony crimes. While each carries a variety of serious penalties, there are certain precedents for each that prosecutors must prove occurred before prosecution can take place.