Earlier this week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that three individuals were indicted for mail fraud and money laundering for their participation in an alleged fraudulent mass-mailing scheme that tricked hundreds of thousands of consumers into paying fees to obtain cash prizes.  According to the indictment, many of the victims of the alleged scheme were elderly. 

The indictment alleged that the defendants sent promotional mailings that falsely claimed that the recipients would receive tens of thousands of dollars in prize money if they paid a fee.  The indictment alleged, however, that the prizes were never received.  

If convicted, the defendants face up to 20 years’ imprisonment for mail fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy.  Each charge also carries a statutory maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gain or loss from the offense.

This is an important reminder for marketers that sometimes there's even criminal liability arising from false advertising.