Wire fraud is the intentional use of television, radio or wire (phone, email or internet) means to scam a person out of money or property. It is a federal felony that comes with severe penalties.
Individuals accused of this may have questions about the charges against them. There are certain facts they need to know.
The elements that constitute wire fraud
Prosecutors must prove that four conditions apply to prove there was wire fraud. The first is that the defendant chose to participate in a fraudulent scheme while knowing it was one. The second is that his or her purpose was to defraud another person or entity. The third is that any falsehoods or misrepresentations were about a material fact. Finally, the last element that defines wire fraud is that the litigant used wire, television or radio outlets for communication to carry out or perpetuate the criminal plan.
The kinds of wire fraud recognized by the law
For penalty purposes, the government divides wire fraud cases into four kinds, specifically:
- Ones that do not involve aggravating factors, classified as general wire fraud
- Ones that involve financial institutions
- Ones that involve disaster events as defined by the Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance act
- Ones that involve illegal telemarketing
Depending on which one of these an individual commits, the level of legal consequences may vary. General wire fraud carries the least severe ones.
The possible defenses against wire fraud charges
One possible argument is that the communications were not fraudulent or that they were not sent by radio, television or wire. Defendants may also assert that the lies and false pretenses were not about a material fact or that the accused did not intend to commit fraud.
Wire fraud is a serious offense. However, there exist ways to fight charges.