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What is Wire Fraud?

The rapid growth of telecommunications and the ease and convenience of the internet have enabled individuals to maintain contact with their friends and family wherever they may be. Con artists use devices such as telephones, cell phones, fax machines, instant messages, and e-mail to contact their victims so they can make their pitch.  While the federal government attempts to regulate this deceitful behavior, sometimes innocent businesses get tied up in wire fraud when their advertising schemes go too far.

Wire fraud is a federal crime.  It is an offense for anyone to use interstate wire communications facilities to carry out a scheme to defraud.  For wire fraud, a person must be guilty of the following things:

  • There must be a scheme to defraud; and
  • The person must transmit by wire some sound, writing, sign, signal, or picture for the purpose of executing the scheme to defraud. Note that each separate use of wire facilities to further the scheme to defraud constitutes a separate offense of wire fraud. 

It is unnecessary for the government to prove all the details of the scheme.  The government does not have to prove: 

  • The material transmitted by wire was itself false or fraudulent; or 
  • The alleged scheme actually succeeded in defrauding anyone.

What is a Scheme to Defraud?

A scheme to defraud is often characterized as a plan to obtain money or property by using false statements.

Do I Need an Attorney for a Wire Fraud Case?

If you are a victim of wire fraud, an attorney may be able to help you recover your losses.  Wire fraud penalties can be severe and can include large fines and imprisonment.  A criminal defense attorney can be crucial to helping you navigate the complex federal legal procedures and providing you with the best legal options and defenses available.  Furthermore, a criminal defense attorney may also ensure that your company's advertising practices do not fall under the umbrella of wire fraud.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 08-31-2015 10:03 AM PDT

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