Fraud is a serious crime with severe penalties, no matter what type of fraudulent activity a person ends up involved in. Mail and wire fraud are two examples. Each has its own unique set of defining traits, as well as its potential penalties.
However, at the same time, both mail and wire fraud have similarities that overlap in some ways. So how can you tell the two apart? Where do the differences lie?
Traits mail and wire fraud share
Cornell Law School discusses wire fraud, a charge similar to mail fraud. To understand the differences between the two, it is important to understand the similarities first. Both mail and wire fraud involve the intent to part someone with their assets, or to deprive them of their access to honest goods and services. Most forms of fraud involve the use of false suggestions or deception to obtain these things. They may also involve the suppression of truth or other unethical actions that others will either rely on or believe in.
Mail fraud and the postal system
Thus, the primary difference between mail and wire fraud is how these fraudulent acts get carried out. Mail fraud involves the use of the U.S. postal system. Mail fraud may involve the use of letters, packages, postcards or anything else sent by physical mail to further a fraud scheme.
On the other hand, wire fraud involves electronic means of communication. This includes wire transfer, email, telephone calls, text messaging and other forms of non-physical contact.
Both forms of fraud carry hefty penalties though, including the possibility of jail time and heavy fines.