Wire Fraud is a federal crime that involves any scheme or plan that intends to defraud someone out of money or anything of value. This crime involves the use of any mass communications means such as wire, radio, television, or the internet. In blog, we will discuss what this means, as it covers a wide variety of activities.
Can always be a federal crime
Because wire fraud involves mass communication that flows through the stream of interstate commerce, it is a federal crime. Federal crimes are punished and prosecuted much differently than state crimes. You should contact a criminal defense attorney for more information.
Though state criminal codes may address specific acts that fall within the elements of wire fraud, those acts are usually labeled a something other than “wire fraud” in that particular jurisdiction.
Elements of Wire fraud
In order to be convicted of wire fraud, the federal government would have to prove all of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant was part of scheme to defraud another person, such as by obtaining money or something else of value through false pretenses;
- The defendant acted knowingly or with intent to defraud;
- The defendant made false representations that were by wire, radio, or television communications in interstate or foreign commerce.
**Note that although the elements don’t specifically mention the internet, courts have found that the internet would be classified as a wire. This is because this federal statute was originally written before the advent of the internet. The internet now often centers around allegations of wire fraud.
Examples of wire fraud
There are several examples of wire fraud that we encounter in our everyday lives including the following:
- Soliciting for donations to a charity that does not exist or is not what it purports to be, on social media or via e-mail, or through a Go-Fund-me page.
- Sending an e-mail to multiple people on someone’s e-mail list. Fraudulently purporting to be that person and asking for money from friends to help them out of a (made up) scenario.
Punishment for Wire fraud
Wire fraud is governed by federal statute 18 U.S.C 1343. Under that statute, wire fraud is punishable by up to twenty years in prison and even thirty years in prison in some instances. Massive financial penalties and fines are also applicable.
Like all other federal crimes however, wire fraud follows the federal sentencing guidelines, which are very specific with regard to the facts of the case and the defendant’s criminal record.
Wire fraud is a serious criminal charge that can lead to some very serious consequences. If you were charged with this crime, you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible. Gilles Law handles wire fraud cases and several other federal crimes in both North Carolina and South Carolina. If you need a federal criminal defense attorney contact us today.