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What are the Essential Elements of Wire Fraud?


Wire fraud is a type of fraud that involves the use of electronic communications — this can include a phone call, a fax, an email, a text, or a social media message, just to name a few.

Understanding Federal Wire Fraud

The U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Resource Manual Section 941.18 U.S.C. 1343 cites these as the key elements of wire fraud:

  • Devising or intending to devise a scheme or trick to defraud another by means of a material misrepresentation, with
  • The intent to defraud, through
  • Interstate or international electronic communications.

In layman's terms, this means that in order to be criminally charged with wire fraud, a person must have intentionally and voluntarily used a communication device that sends information over state lines as part of a scheme to defraud another person out of money.

Examples of Wire Fraud

The laws regarding wire fraud are intentionally vague so that it covers many acts. Some common examples of wire fraud include:

  • Creating a fake web page and asking for donations for a charity.
  • Emailing someone and asking for their personal information, then opening credit cards in their name.
  • Telemarketing scams in which fraudsters use telephones to get money from people.

The Penalties for Federal Wire Fraud

State fraud-related crimes can be charged in conjunction with wire fraud. However, wire fraud is a federal crime itself. The penalties for federal wire fraud include:

  • Up to 20 years in federal prison.
  • Up to $250,000 in fines for individuals.
  • Up to $500,000 in fines for organizations.

There are many legal defenses available to people accused of federal wire fraud, including lack of intent (the person did not intend to defraud someone), mistake of fact (you communicated false information that you believed to be true), and puffery (the use of exaggeration or opinionated statements).

If you’re being investigated for wire fraud, it’s crucial to act fast and get proper legal counsel. Contact Nick Lotito & Seth Kirschenbaum today at (404) 471-3177 so we can take immediate and effective action

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