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What is wire fraud?

  • Birdsall Obear

Fraud charges may be filed for alleged crimes that take place through the mail, telephone and electronic media. Attorneys can help defend against federal fraud charges, including wire fraud. Wire fraud occurs when the defendant uses electronic communications or an interstate communications facility to defraud or obtain money after making false promises or representations to the recipient of the communication.

Convictions for this federal crime may result in up to 30 years imprisonment and fines and restitution. Prosecutors must file charges within five years. Where the fraud involves a financial institution, this period is 10 years.

Prosecutors must prove that a person intentionally and voluntarily took part in a scheme to defraud another person or institution out of money; that this was done with the intent to defraud; that it was reasonably foreseeable that interstate wire communications would be used for the scheme; and that these communications were actually used.

People are most familiar with defendants who use the telephone to make numerous calls to many potential victims seeking money. Criminal cases still involve alleged schemes perpetrated through telephone conversations.

Cases now involve allegations that defendants used the internet to find and contact potential victims. Examples include postings of fake photographs, stories of distress and guarantees of financial windfalls or romance to seek money from the recipient.

Charges of wire fraud can have serious long-term legal and personal consequences. Anyone charged with wire fraud or any other federal fraud offense should seek immediate legal representation to help protect their rights.

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