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Understanding wire fraud: Defrauding others through technology

On Behalf of | Jul 15, 2021 | Criminal Defense

If you are accused of wire fraud, it’s important for you to take that accusation very seriously. Wire fraud includes any financial fraud that uses information technology or telecommunications. This may include your phone, a fax or even something as simple as a text message.

Wire fraud is punishable with both prison and fines, which is why it’s so vital to make sure that you understand what you’re being accused of and how to defend yourself. The key elements of a case require that the prosecution shows that you:

  • Intentionally, and voluntarily, participated in a scheme to defraud others
  • Intended to defraud others out of money
  • Used interstate wire communications
  • Could reasonably expect that interstate wire communications would be used

Since this is a federal charge, there is a potential for long prison sentences and high fines. In fact, wire fraud may carry up to 20 years imprisonment and fines of up to $250,000 per individual. Surprisingly, just proving that someone intended to defraud someone or act knowing that fraudulent communications were taking place is enough for the prosecution to move forward with the case.

What is the most common example of wire fraud?

One very common example of wire fraud is called the Nigerian prince scam. Most people who have used email and the internet have come across this scam at one time or another. In it, the scammer sends an email claiming to be a prince who needs to access funds in their bank account, but they need a third party to help. That’s the victim. They ask for financial information to transfer the funds to them, but instead, that information is used to steal money from the victim.

This scam is common in several forms ranging from princes asking for money to long-lost relatives stating that there is an inheritance waiting.

What should you do if you’re accused of participating in wire fraud?

If you are part of an investigation or are accused of participating in wire fraud, it’s important for you to defend yourself as soon as possible and as effectively as you can. The penalties for a conviction could greatly affect your life and leave you with heavy fines and time in prison.