Federal Wire Fraud Violations
Wire fraud involves committing fraud via use of wired or wireless communications. The origins of Wire Fraud violations date to 1872 and initially applied to mail services. However, it was not until after McNally v. United States (1987), that a bill specifically dealing with Wire Fraud was passed. This occurred after the United States the Supreme Court decided that 18 U.S.C. §§ 1341 and 1343 did not constitute “honest services fraud” in that case.
What Constitutes a Federal Wire Fraud Violation?
18 U.S.C. § 1343 states:
“Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, transmits or causes to be transmitted by means of wire, radio, or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce, any writings, signs, signals, pictures, or sounds for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both. If the violation affects a financial institution, such person shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned not more than 30 years, or both.”
In other words, if someone finds a way to use the Internet to con someone out of money, property, or anything else of value, they are guilty of Federal Wire Fraud.
As provided by the Offices of the United States Attorneys, 941. 18 U.S.C. 1343—Elements of Wire Fraud are…
“under Section 1343 directly parallel those of the mail fraud statute, but require the use of an interstate telephone call or electronic communication made in furtherance of the scheme…wire fraud is identical to mail fraud statute except that it speaks of communications transmitted by wire…the four essential elements of the crime of wire fraud are:
- that the defendant voluntarily and intentionally devised or participated in a scheme to defraud another out of money;
- that the defendant did so with the intent to defraud;
- that it was reasonably foreseeable that interstate wire communications would be used; and
- that interstate wire communications were in fact used “two elements comprise the crime of wire fraud:
- a scheme or artifice to defraud; and
- use of interstate wire communication to facilitate that scheme
Two “Essential elements of wire fraud are:
- a scheme to defraud and
- the use of, or causing the use of, interstate wire communications to execute the scheme
“To prove wire fraud government must show
- scheme to defraud by means of false pretenses,
- defendant’s knowing and willful participation in scheme with intent to defraud, and
- use of interstate wire communications in furtherance of scheme
“Wire fraud requires proof of
- a scheme to defraud; and
- the use of an interstate wire communication to further the scheme.”
Put simply, for Federal Wire Fraud to be charged, the Federal Prosecutor will need to have
- Evidence that the defendant planned to defraud another
- That the intent was fraud
- That the defendant would have planned to use wire communications in the commission of the crime
- That the defendant used interstate wire communications, which includes telephone calls, fax machines, the Internet, even television
What are the Penalties if Convicted of Federal Wire Fraud?
If convicted of Federal Wire Fraud, you should know that the penalties can be quite serious. Just one act of Federal Wire Fraud can land a person in prison for up to 20 years along with stiff fines. If, however, the scheme took place in a region connected to a Presidential Disaster Area or a financial institution, the fines are drastically increased. In fact, the fines may be up to $1,000,000 and a maximum of 30 years incarcerated with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.
Federal Wire Fraud charges have a statute of limitations of five (5) years. The only exception to this are charges associated with a Federal capital crime.
What Are Two Defenses to a Federal Wire Fraud Violation?
Every situation is different and accused Federal Wire Fraud Violations are no different. Because the Prosecutor will have to prove intent to defraud in connection with the charges, the exact circumstances could prove invaluable to your Attorney, Jason A Korner. He will want to know as many details about the situation as you can provide. Generally, there are two good defenses which will be considered, though if the situation calls for an alternate strategy, it may be discussed during your free consultation.
- The Good Faith Defense–Because the law specifically dictates that “intent” be proven, one common defense is to argue that the defendant acted, but acted in good faith that what he/she was doing was proper. If it can be shown there were specific mitigating circumstances which would cause someone to believe fraud when there was no such intent, the case may be made.
- Puffery – Also known as Puffing, Flattery, Fluffing (as in ego). There can be times when it becomes advantageous to flatter people excessively…especially when life is on the line. There could also have been times during the supposed crime-in-progress when statements made were exaggerations…puffery. This is again where exact circumstances, statements, sounds, smells, everything possible can be useful in building a solid defense.
Facing a Federal Wire Fraud Charge? Call Criminal Defense Attorney Jason Korner Now!
Attorney Jason A Korner has spent most of his professional career dealing with Federal cases. He is no stranger to the inner workings of the Federal Prosecutors Office and knows how to make the system work for his clients. If you are facing a Federal Wire Fraud Charge, there is no time to waste.
Call Attorney Jason Korner now at