Nearly everyone who has a computer has received an email from some stranger with a sad or frightening story about why they desperately need money or some other kind of help involving the receiver’s bank account information. Although people still fall for this old scam, much more sophisticated forms of fraud arise each year, and it is often difficult for law enforcement to keep up with the technology they use.
If you are under investigation or facing charges for wire fraud, it is likely that authorities have been investigating you for weeks or even months. Because wire fraud is a federal crime, you have a great deal on the line, and building a sound defense strategy against these charges is critical.
What is wire fraud?
Wire fraud includes a wide number of offenses that involve wire communication, such as the internet, cell phones, television or landlines, among others. For example, calling people or sending emails to many people to trick them into giving up their personal information used in identity theft or other schemes are forms of wire fraud.
Someone accused of embezzlement and who transferred funds electronically from a work account to a personal account may face wire fraud charges in addition to theft. Even if you did not personally send a wire communication to perpetrate fraud, authorities may believe your actions constituted some involvement in a wire fraud scheme.
Elements of the crime
In order for a court to find you guilty of wire fraud, the prosecution must prove the following elements of the crime:
- That you purposely devised a scheme or participated in a plan to defraud someone
- That you carried out your plan and obtained someone’s money or personal information using deceit
- That you understood or expected that the use of interstate wires would be part of the plan
- That you actually used interstate wire communication to carry out the fraudulent scheme
A conviction for a federal crime often carries significant penalties, including the chance of a decades-long prison sentence and fines reaching hundreds of thousands of dollars. In fact, the greater the loss, the higher the fines may go. Additionally, each transaction may count as a separate charge, which means convictions for each count may result in penalties for each count. With so much at stake, it is wise to start right away to build your criminal defense.