Wire fraud is a federal charge with severe consequences if you are convicted. Defendants charged with wire fraud should contact a skilled attorney immediately to protect their rights. If you have been accused of this serious crime, contact our Chicago wire fraud defense lawyers at Law Offices of Vadim A. Glozman today.
Wire fraud is a federal crime described in 18 U.S.C. 1343, which states that it is illegal for someone to voluntarily or intentionally use a TV, radio, telephone, or other interstate communications device as part of a plan to deprive someone of property or something of value. Three elements of wire fraud must be proven for you to be convicted:
You cannot be convicted of wire fraud for something you did by accident. Instead, prosecutors must show that you acted intentionally to deprive a person of their money or property.
It must be proven that you purposely created or participated in a plan to defraud someone of money or something of value. The scheme could consist of any intent to defraud someone with a promise, misrepresentation, deception, or any other falsehood to defraud someone of something of value.
To be convicted of this federal crime, the state must prove that you used some electronic device for interstate communications, such as a cell phone, computer, TV, radio, fax machine, email, or Internet, to transmit information and messages to further the fraud scheme.
Remember that the prosecutor does not have to prove that your plan was successful for you to be convicted. You could be sentenced for intending to commit wire fraud even if the plan did not bear fruit. Also, every act of wire fraud is considered a separate offense.
So, if you sent someone seven text messages as part of the scheme, these are seven acts of fraud. Wire fraud is a broad offense, so it is often charged with other crimes when prosecutors may not have enough evidence to convict you of the additional charges.
If you are convicted of wire fraud, you can receive up to 20 years in prison, be fined, or both. You can be put in jail for decades when you are convicted of several wire fraud counts. A wire fraud scheme that affects a financial institution can put you in prison for up to 30 years, and the fine is up to $1 million.
Wire fraud may involve any kind of fraudulent plan that relies on interstate communication to commit the crime. Some defendants engage in a dishonest act without even realizing it is a crime and are embarrassed and confused when hit with federal charges. Some of the most common wire fraud crimes today are:
Telemarketing has been used to steal money from people for decades. Telemarketing fraud usually involves calling the victim, making false statements, and tricking the victim into giving them money. A common scam today is when the scammer pretends to represent the IRS and informs the victim they owe taxes, pay immediately, or they will be arrested.
Someone meets another person on a dating app or elsewhere online. After establishing a relationship, the criminal pretends they have a financial emergency for a legitimate reason, such as not being paid by their employer or for a medical procedure. The romantic relationship is false, and the person asking for money is a scammer.
One of the most common types of wire fraud involves sending large numbers of emails and texts to people while posing as a legitimate company, such as a large bank or credit card company. The goal is to trick the victim into providing their financial and personal information, such as credit card and Social Security numbers.
Someone pretends to be a prince or princess from another country of political significance to trick the victim into providing their bank and other financial information.
The victim in a lottery scam is usually informed by email or text that they won money in a lottery or sweepstakes. If the victim falls for it, they are sent a check and told to pay a processing fee to access the winnings. Then, the person provides the processing fee but the check bounces.
While wire fraud charges are serious, there are ways to defend yourself with the help of your Chicago wire fraud attorney. Some of these are:
You can argue that you did not commit fraud because you were puffing, which means exaggerations or flattery. Sales professionals will sometimes use puffery to attract potential clients and customers and it is not illegal. However, drawing the line between puffery and fraud is complicated; you will need a strong defense attorney to make this argument.
Good faith is possibly the most common defense to a wire fraud charge. This means you did not have the intent to commit the fraud. For example, evidence of your good faith could be that you listened to a lawyer or financial advisor’s advice or did not have a financial motive to commit the crime.
Constructive fraud is unintentional and maybe because of improper business practices. Therefore, committing constructive fraud cannot convict you on wire fraud charges. This situation could arise, for example, if you are on a corporate board that did not provide shareholders with certain information.
If the alleged fraud happened long ago, you might argue that the statute of limitations has expired. For the most part, the statute of limitations for federal wire fraud is five years.
If you have been charged with this federal crime, contact an experienced attorney immediately. The US government will go to great lengths to convict you, and a robust defense is required.
Wire fraud is a severe federal charge that can put you in prison for years, plus fines and restitution. So, you need legal help immediately. Contact our Chicago wire fraud defense lawyers at Law Offices of Vadim A. Glozman, we can help, so please call (312) 726-9015.