Common types of criminal fraud

When someone uses lies, deception or dishonesty for personal gain, he or she is likely committing an act of fraud.

There are several types of criminal fraud, and depending on the circumstances, the acts may warrant state or federal charges.

Mail and wire fraud

The most common federally charged crimes are mail and wire fraud. These are crimes that include improper use of the United States Postal Service, phone, email or internet-connected devices.

Computer and internet fraud

Using a computer to hack into a network for the purpose of defrauding someone by altering records or accessing information is computer fraud. Internet fraud often includes computer fraud as well as using the internet to commit identity theft, investment fraud or phishing scams.


Producing, trading and selling forged items such as currency, designer goods or legal documents constitutes counterfeiting. Whether offenders peddle knock-off handbags or fake identification cards as a side hustle, they could land behind bars for your efforts.

Credit card fraud

Illegally obtaining and using a credit card to make purchases is a particularly heinous and harmful crime. Offenders may use petty theft or more sophisticated operations to obtain victims’ card numbers and personal information.

Penalties for fraud in Iowa include fines, incarceration, probation and restitution. Though punishments vary between state and federal laws, the types of fraud often overlap, meaning it is possible to face multiple charges for a single crime. It is important to understand your rights as you navigate the criminal justice process when facing fraud charges.