When federal prosecutors are looking to bring white-collar charges against a defendant that would otherwise only face charges in Missouri state court, they often will charge the person with wire fraud. This is a very broad and powerful tool at prosecutors’ disposal. It covers a wide range of activities and can result in heavy penalties, including prison time and huge fines.
So what exactly is the crime of wire fraud? Here is a brief overview.
Elements of wire fraud charges
Wire fraud is a specific type of fraud crime that involves virtually any type of electronic communication across state lines. It can involve images, videos, signs, text or sounds transmitted by email, text message, website, radio or television, among other means. The accused person allegedly used these communications to intentionally defraud another person or business out of their money or property.
The interstate element of wire fraud is important. If the allegedly fraudulent communications all took place within Missouri, the federal wire fraud law does not apply. Another important element is intent. The prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intended to commit fraud.
Examples of wire fraud
Many wire fraud schemes involve tricking people into giving the offender their credit card info, Social Security number and other sensitive information. The offender poses as the victim’s bank, credit card company or other trusted institution to encourage the victim to share the data. Email phishing is an example of this scheme. Similarly, a fraudster could cold-call victims posing as a bank. They tell the victim that there is a problem with their bank account and they need the victim’s account number to solve it.
All federal charges are serious, and wire fraud is no exception. The sentence could include up to 20 years, or 30 years in some situations. Fines of up to $250,000 are possible for most convictions. However, with a vigorous defense, it could be possible to get the charges dropped or reduced.