The Ages of Fraud Part 2

After the end of World War II, Postal Inspectors were flooded with various forms of fraud. During this time Postal Inspectors were tasked with investigating old frauds with new methodologies.

Post-WWII Era (1940-1960)

The most common form of fraud in the '40s and '50s were work-at-home scams, through the mail and newspaper advertisements. One of the most infamous work-at-home scammers was Nels Irwin. In 1953, he ran over 44 "companies" promoting everything from miniature trees to plastic novelties. Inspectors estimated Irwin made over $3 million in six years on less-than-quality products.

Other frauds of the era included medical quacks, like famed beauty scammer Cora Galenti, and deceptive contest promotions with no winners.

Since the last major revision in 1909, the Mail Fraud Statue remained virtually unchanged until its codification on June 25, 1948. On that day it officially became Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341.

Expansion of Postal Inspectors' Roles (1960-1980)

With advances in technology, Postal Inspectors' roles expanded. Telemarketing led to an increase in deceptive language. It became important for Inspectors to understand whether criminals had the intent to deceive or defraud.

In United States vs. Regent Office Supply Company, Regent used misleading language to deceive people into purchasing. However, people received items of value with the ability to return. It was determined that the case did not meet mail fraud statue requirements.

Postal Inspectors were highly respected agents. In the 1970s - due to their professionalism, skills, and impartiality - the Inspection Service was asked to provide an Inspector to work with the Knapp Commission, reviewing cases of corruption in the NYC Police Department.

Modern Fraudsters (1980-Present)

Postal Inspectors remain prominent in fraud investigations.

  • Boesky/Milken insider trading of 1982
  • Art fraud
  • Allen Stanford, who ran a $7 billion investment fraud.

  • With the advent of the internet, many old schools scams have developed into the modern versions we see today.

  • Frauds against seniors and veterans
  • Investment Frauds
  • Insurance Scams
  • Charity Frauds
  • Health care fraud
  • Telemarketing
  • Reshipping
  • Sweepstakes

  • Like "old wine in a new bottle" and all still investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service.


    Explore the history of the United States Postal Inspection Service.

    Learn More