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Mail fraud refers to any scheme which attempts to unlawfully obtain money or valuables in which the postal system is used at any point in the commission of a criminal offense.


Mail fraud is covered by 18 U.S.C., Ch. 63. As in the case of wire fraud, this statute is often used as a basis for a separate federal prosecution of what would otherwise have been only a violation of a state law. "Mail fraud" is a term of art referring to a specific statutory crime in the United States. Other nations may have similar crimes, but not all countries do, and the elements required to prove this crime will vary in each jurisdiction.

Internet fraud and online auction fraud[]

Internet fraud or wire fraud schemes may also qualify as mail fraud if the mails are being used at any point in the scheme, including a request that a money order be sent to pay for non-existent or undelivered auction merchandise. Many of these schemes are merely variants on the fraudulent mail-order scams in which the merchandise is never delivered as described or delivered at all.

Online schemes claiming that "a hot female escort will give you access to her entire pornography collection on some Internet site if you send a money order to a drop box in Barrie," if payment is accepted by postal money order and the product never received, would also qualify. The original solicitation is made online, the supposed product claims to be delivered online, but use of the mails at any point (such as to receive money or negotiable instruments) could easily qualify such a scheme as mail fraud.

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