What Is Wire Fraud?

Wire fraud is one of the most serious white collar felonies on the books. Every year, fraud costs the U.S. economy trillions of dollars. As a result, the government fiercely prosecutes those suspected of fraud to reduce fraudulent activity in the future. Sadly, these overly-enthusiastic pursuits can result in innocent people getting caught up in the criminal justice system over misunderstandings and simple errors.

What Is Wire Fraud?

The mail fraud statute, Title 18 U.S.C. §1343, makes it a federal crime to use a wire communication to advance a scheme to defraud or obtain money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses/representations. Defrauding a victim means to deprive that person of something valuable by deceit or trickery.

Examples of wire fraud schemes include:

  • Someone phishing emails making false representations that conclude with a request for bank account details
  • A television minister soliciting charitable donations that they convert to personal use
  • An enterprising person presenting an idea for making a new product to potential investors but with no intention to follow through with the plan

Wire Fraud Elements

A prosecutor must prove the following 4 elements beyond a reasonable doubt to establish wire fraud: (1) the defendant intended to defraud, (2) the defendant created or participated in a scheme designed to defraud people out money or property, (3) it was reasonably foreseeable that the defendant would use interstate telephone calls or electronic communications to further the scheme and (4) the defendant in fact used interstate telephone calls or interstate electronic communications in furtherance of the scheme.

Wire Fraud Penalties

Wire fraud charges carry a prison sentence of up to 20 years for each count, along with heavy fines. This maximum is increased to 30 years per count and a maximum $1 million fine if the fraud affects a financial institution or the fraud was related to a state of emergency declared by the President of the United States.

If you or a loved one has been charged with wire fraud, you need an experienced law firm working on your side. Please contact our Boston criminal defense lawyer at Brad Bailey Law today. Call (617) 500-0252 to learn more about your available defenses.
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