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What is wire fraud?

| Jan 20, 2021 | Criminal Defense

Wire fraud is similar in many ways to other types of fraud. One exception is that the criminal activity takes place through wire, television, or radio communications. The law enforcement response to the increased risks of wire fraud for New Jersey residents is harsher laws that bring stiffer sentences.

Wire fraud elements

A wide range of actions can cause individuals to become targeted by wire fraud charges. These actions include the transmission of any sounds, signals, writings, or symbols with the intent to defraud an individual or group. Wire fraud and other federal crimes address individuals who commit crimes across state lines. The elements necessary to make a wire fraud case include:

  • Participating in fraudulent activity with the intent to gain the possessions of another person
  • Demonstrating an intent to defraud the other person
  • Becoming “reasonably foreseeable” at some point that the defendant would make use of wire technology to carry out the offense
  • Actually using wire technology to execute a fraud attempt

Wire fraud penalties

Individuals convicted of wire fraud face a maximum prison sentence of 20 years along with a fine of up to $250,000. The fine paid by groups guilty of wire fraud can total as much as half a million dollars.

The penalties for wire fraud associated with a financial institution or an event declared a national disaster by the president can become enhanced. These crimes carry a maximum prison term of 30 years and can result in a million-dollar fine.

Defendants should also understand that the penalties detailed above are for a single count of wire fraud. Prosecutors have the option of treating each email, phone call, or other wire communication as a separate crime. For example, a defendant who made three phone calls to commit fraud can face the possibility of spending 75 years in jail and having to pay $750,000 in fines. Allegations of wire fraud should be taken seriously.

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