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    Mail Fraud Tip Sheet

    U.S. Postal Service


    U.S. Postal Inspectors investigate any crime in which the U.S. Mail is used to further a scheme--whether it originated in the mail, by telephone, or on the Internet. The use of the U.S. Mail is what makes it mail fraud.

    If evidence of a postal violation exists, Postal Inspectors may seek prospective or administrative action against the violator. However, if money is lost through a fraudulent scheme conducted via the mail, Inspectors lack the authority to ensure you receive a refund and can't require that products, services, or advertisements- -on the Internet or elsewhere--be altered.

    Postal Inspectors base investigations of mail fraud on the number, pattern, and substance of complaints received from the public. The Postal Inspection Service will carefully review the information you provide. We may share the information with other agencies when there is a possible violation within their jurisdiction.

    If you feel you've been victimized in a fraud scheme that involves the U.S. Mail, submit a Mail Fraud Complaint Form to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.




    Legal Definition of Mail Fraud

    MAIL FRAUD - 18 U.S.C. 1341, makes it a Federal crime or offense for anyone to use the United States mails in carrying out a scheme to defraud.

    A person can be found guilty of that offense only if all of the following facts are proved: First: That the person knowingly and willfully devised a scheme to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false pretenses, representations or promises; and Second: That the person used the United States Postal Service by mailing, or by causing to be mailed, some matter or thing for the purpose of executing the scheme to defraud.