Wire fraud is fraud that utilizes a form of telecommunication or the internet to defraud someone out of money or property. It is a felony offense.
Elements of wire fraud
To be charged with wire fraud, these elements must be present. The defendant must have intentionally devised a scheme to defraud someone out of money. There was intent to defraud.
It was reasonably foreseeable that interstate wire communications would be used to carry out the scheme. And finally, interstate wire communications were indeed used to carry out the scheme.
What is the punishment?
For individuals who commit wire fraud, it is punishable by up to 20 years in prison with a $250,000 fine. For organizations that commit wire fraud, it jumps up to $500,000.
There are also circumstances in which the punishment could be greater, with the penalty being up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
Forms of wire fraud
Internet scams, telemarketing fraud, phishing, anything that uses a television, telephone, email radio or internet are all forms of wire fraud.
Insurance fraud, tax fraud and bank fraud are often carried out via wire, resulting in additional wire fraud charges.
Mail fraud is often connected to wire fraud since communications are usually done with the use of several mediums.
Securities fraud involves fraudulent behavior with investment securities. Because it is a state and federal crime, the punishment can be great. While the jail time is only up to 5 years, the fines can reach up to $10 million. Federal securities fraud can be up to 20 years in jail.
Every act of wire fraud is its own separate offense. So, sending 5 emails that promise property that doesn’t exist, means 5 counts of wire fraud.
Defenses for wire fraud
If the defendant believed that the promises made to the individual were true statements, they could be found not guilty of wire fraud charges. Additionally, if someone uses exaggeration when trying to get someone to buy something on the phone or through the television, that could be a way to win the case.
There is also an argument your lawyer can make that proves that you had no intent to commit fraud. If the prosecution cannot prove intent, there can be no conviction.
Innocence is not the only way for the defendant to get out of a wire fraud charge. Often times, the prosecution will offer reduced sentencing if the defendant offers assistance in the arrest of another person involved in the wire fraud scheme.
Another way to get the case dismissed is by illegal search and seizure. If law enforcement officers searched a home or car without a warrant or arrested someone without probable cause, there is a possibility of a dismissal.
There is also a statute of limitations of 5 years. If the scheme affects a financial institution, the statute of limitation is 10 years.
Attempt or conspiracy to commit wire fraud
If you have attempted to commit wire fraud, you can be charged whether your fraudulent scheme was successful or not. Hefty fines and prison time are on the table when charged with this crime.
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