BEFORE YOU REPORT MAIL FRAUD:
Do not contact the authorities or WriteAPrisoner.com if you intend to use this as a form of revenge against someone, or you may find yourself facing charges for making a false report. If you are unwilling or unable to provide the requested information for authorities or WriteAPrisoner.com to verify inmate mail fraud, we cannot help you. There is too much at stake to simply take someone's word regarding charges of illegal activity. You must provide proof in the form of both financial statements and written correspondence from the inmate demonstrating mail fraud as defined below. If you do not understand something listed in this section, please contact our Legal Department. Sending money to an inmate, or having an inmate ask for money alone does not constitute mail fraud. This is a specific crime, and it applies only when these specific criteria are met:
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 mail fraud 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.
Inmates Who Have Been the Victims of Mail Fraud
Inmates can find themselves the victims of mail fraud. Some of our inmates, for example, have been victimized by businesses claiming to be us and asking for renewal fees. While WriteAPrisoner.com always takes action when we are able, it is important that the inmate also reports the incident. The best way for an inmate to report a postal crime is to contact the U.S. Postmaster at the post office nearest to the letter’s source of origin.
- Locate the post office nearest to the letter’s source of origin.
- Send the content that you believe to be illegal to the post office, and add “Attention: Postmaster” to the top of it. Be short and concise when writing to the postmaster. Be sure that you believe the activity to be illegal before filing as well.
Public Who Have Been the Victims of Inmate Mail Fraud
WriteAPrisoner.com maintains strict policies regarding inmates attempting to defraud the public. Such occurrences, while rare, jeopardize the services we provide to well-intentioned inmates seeking only friendship, legal aid and employment upon release. WriteAPrisoner.com therefore takes immediate steps to enforce our policy of banning these inmates from participating in our services. If you are claiming such a violation, we request that you print, complete, and send our Mail Fraud Affidavit to the inmate's facility. Please note, this Affidavit must be witnessed by a taker of oaths, such as a notary public.
- Print and complete the Mail Fraud Affidavit, and have it notarized.
- Send the original fraud affidavit to the prison where the alleged crime occurred. Please include any supporting documentation, such as letters from the inmate, clearly marked where you believe the inmate is seeking money under false pretenses or otherwise clearly pointing out what you believe to be an attempt to defraud. Make two sets of copies of the notarized affidavit and all supporting documents.
- Keep one set of copies for your files. Send the other set of copies to us, so that we are able to investigate your allegations. We will remove and blacklist the inmate from using our services if this is deemed necessary. Send to:
WriteAPrisoner.com Legal Department
PO Box 10
Edgewater, FL 32132 USA
Postal Scams by Inmates
Monetary Donations - When writing to inmates you should be on guard should you ever receive what appears to be a form letter requesting money. The institutions provide all basic needs of living to inmates. In most cases, even educational programs are free to inmates. Donating money is a decision that can only be made by you. If the inmate is requesting a donation for something that seems unusual, please contact us before sending money and we will address any concerns you have. A large amount of money for an inmate would typically be anything over $40.00 or so. There have been some reports of inmates claiming that they need money before they are allowed to be released and also for expensive educational programs. Do not send money in these cases.
Postal Scams Targeting Inmates
Legal Scams - Attorneys (or people misrepresenting themselves as attorneys) promising sentence reductions in exchange for large sums of cash have been sprouting up, and many family members of inmates have been duped in these scams. The range of money is typically in the thousands. If you receive such a notice or suspect fraud, be sure to report it to the appropriate authorities.
Photo Scam - This is a common scam attempted by people in the free world, which usually targets male inmates. Females write to an inmate and initiate conversation. In the letters to follow, they will express their desire to send photos, but state that they don't have the funds to pay for them. They will offer to send photos to the inmates if the inmates are willing to pay for them. Most inmates who send a money order in this case never receive photos or further correspondence from these people. They have completed their scam and have moved on to their next victim.
"Nigerian Oil Scams" - This has been the term coined by the media for emails, letters and faxes sent to unsuspecting citizens, in most cases from supposed members of royal families. They will usually involve a very drawn out explanation regarding why they have solicited your aid. As the scam progresses, the Nigerians request blank, signed business letterhead and invoices; bank account numbers; bank addresses, phone and fax numbers; and money to cover transaction expenses. Please note that these scams are not exclusive to Nigeria. They come from all over the world.
Some indicators that are warnings of a probable scam include:
- Any offer of a substantial percentage of a large sum of money to be transferred into your account, in return for your "discretion" or " confidentiality";
- Any deal that seems too good to be true;
- Requests for signed and stamped, blank letterhead or invoices, or for bank account information;
- Requests for urgent air shipment, accompanied by an instrument of payment whose genuineness cannot immediately be established;
- Solicitation letters claiming the soliciting party has personal ties to high Nigerian officials;
- Requests for payment in U.S. dollars, in advance, of transfer taxes or incorporation fees;
- Statements that your name was provided to the soliciting party either by someone you do not know or by "a reliable contact;"
- Promises of advance payment for services to be provided to the Nigerian government;
- Claims that a Nigerian visa is not necessary or that arrival in Nigeria should be overland from a neighboring country;
- Resistance by these Nigerian "partners" to your desire to check in with the U.S. Embassy;
- Any offer to supply crude oil; and
- Any offer of a charitable donation.
The indicators listed above are some of the most common and reliable hallmarks of scam operations. Scams may include one, some, or all of the above. The list is not all-inclusive, and scam operators are constantly weaving new elements into their schemes. It is recommended that you never disclose personal information (account numbers, etc.) via postal mail, which could put you in jeopardy.
* Seeking money under false pretenses via the postal mail is also a federal crime. This can also be reported by filling out this form. Again, documentation is mandatory for any of these complaints to be pursued.