Mail fraud and other mail-related crimes are often misunderstood, but fraud is a very serious crime. It leads to people being scammed and losing money. It can also cause emotional turmoil and put people in situations where they feel stress. There is nothing funny about it when residents in Virginia keep becoming targets of such cons. The best way to protect yourself against fraud is to know what it is.

The United States Postal Inspection Service describes mail fraud as any use of the mail and USPS system that tries to scam someone. This includes many different types of mailings. If someone tries to con you and it involves mail, then it is mail fraud.

Common scams include sweepstakes or lottery mailings that say you won, but to collect your prize, you have to pay. These can seem like a great win to someone who really needs the money, but in the end, if you pay, you will only be out the money you paid and you will not get a thing in return.

Employment fraud is another example. These include fake job offers, check-cashing schemes and pyramid schemes. These “jobs” essentially require you to invest your own money and you see little to no return on that investment.

There are also scams that do not involve getting your money but rather focus on getting your personal information. These might include mailings that say to call a tool free number to find out more about an offer. When you call, all they seem to want is your personal information.

This information is for education and is not legal advice.