Wire fraud is the act of using electronic transmission to defraud another person. The communication may occur through the phone, internet or radio. It results in a person persuaded to send money under false pretenses.
This crime is a federal offense, and the repercussions may be severe, depending on the details of each case. Whether one commits a fraudulent scheme through telemarketing, phishing or spam, it is wire fraud.
Penalties for the offense
This offense is a federal crime. The penalties for wire fraud committed against a person is as much as 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. For defrauding a company, the fine increases to $500,000. For cases that involve financial institutions, the charges may be up to 30 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine.
Proof of guilt
The prosecution needs to prove that the defendant had the intent of defrauding someone of money or property. Important factors of a case include the defendant knowingly participating in a scheme to defraud and sending false information to the victim interstate or abroad.
Prosecutors may still have a case if they can prove that the defendant sent a wire transmission that it was reasonable to assume was for fraudulent use, even if he or she insists that no knowledge of the wire communication’s fraudulent purpose.
Strategies for defense
A lack of intent or authority is a potential defense strategy for a wire fraud charge. If a person has evidence backing the claim that he or she did not intend to defraud anyone, this may help the person avoid a guilty sentence.
In other cases, a defense strategy may be a lack of authority. For example, if employees sent emails requested by supervisors and did not realize the emails contained fraudulent material, they may have a strong case for defense.
Statute of limitations
The statute of limitations for wire fraud depends on whether the case involves a financial institution. Wire fraud has a statute of limitations of five years. However, if a case involves defrauding a financial institution, the limit increases to 10 years.