Wire fraud is a crime under both federal and state laws, and the exact definition depends on the law the defendant is charged under.
18 U.S. Code § 1343 Wire Fraud
According to 18 U.S Code Section 1343 wire fraud is defined as recklessly and intentionally making a material misrepresentation to deprive another person of something that has a value.
Wire fraud is any kind of fraud scheme that uses wire, radio or television or communication or includes telephone and communications and some types of internet fraud.
Elements of Wire Fraud 18 U.S. Code 1343
Prosecutor must establish the following element for convicting the defendant of a wire fraud:
- Defendant made a scheme or plan to commit fraud.
- Defendant used wire, television or radio communications to carry out the scheme.
- Defendant had a specific intent to commit fraud.
Usually wire fraud cases involve using misrepresentations for obtaining property or money. But there is also a less known form of a wire fraud called “honest services fraud”, which can also lead to charges. Honest services fraud happens when a person abuses a position of trust by accepting kickbacks or committing bribery.
How is Wire Fraud Committed?
The crime of “wire fraud” can include communications through:
- Telephone calls
- Wire transfers of money
Scheme to Commit Fraud
A person can’t be convicted of wire fraud unless he has a scheme or plan to commit a fraud.
Misrepresentation or a lie must be material to support wire fraud charges. This means that the wrong information must be enough important to make influence on another person’s decision. A misrepresentation of an unimportant fact that doesn’t matter cannot count as wire fraud. A defendant can also make a misrepresentation in case he deceives another person by leaving out some important information.
Knowingly or Recklessly
Defendant acted knowingly or recklessly means that he was aware he was telling a lie or he just didn’t care whether his statement was true or false. Thus, for being convicted in wire fraud a person can misrepresent the facts intentionally or can even be recklessly indifferent by making things up without checking if they were true or not.
Legal Defenses Against Wire Fraud Charges
Potential legal defenses to wire fraud charges are as follows
- Mistake of fact
For committing a wire fraud defendant must have made a misrepresentation. There can be cases when defendant believed that his statement was true or did not fully understand the situation and simply made a mistake of facts.
- No intent
The intent to carry out a wire fraud is the most important element of the crime, so the defendant cannot be convicted in case he didn’t want to deceive another person. It is not enough to simply participate in a wire fraud scheme; defendant also needs to have known about the scheme with the specific intention of committing a fraud.
Penalties for Wire Fraud Conviction
Wire fraud is a federal crime and can result a prison time in federal prison. The penalties for wire fraud include:
- In most cases up to 20 years in federal prison and/or a fine
- In case the fraud involves a financial institution or a federal disaster then a sentence of up to 30 years in federal prison
Wire Fraud Defense Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been arrested and charged with wire fraud 18 U.S. Code section 1343 we invite you to contact our office at (31) 943-1171 today for a free consultation with our wire fraud defense lawyer.