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Federal Wire Fraud Law – Wire Fraud Charges in Federal Court
Specifically, wire fraud allegations involve using any kind of electronic communications method (phone, computer, TV, radio, fax machine, etc.) as part of a deceptive scheme to commit fraud for profit. It is not necessary that the federal prosecutor provide evidence at trial that the use of interstate wires was done knowingly. Use an email service that operates outside of Texas, for example, (Yahoo, Google, AOL) and there may be evidence of interstate wire usage.
Title 18 of the United States Code Section 1343 defines “wire fraud” as a crime of “fraud by wire, radio, or television” that:
Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, transmits or causes to be transmitted by means of wire, radio, or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce, any writings, signs, signals, pictures, or sounds for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both. If the violation occurs in relation to, or involving any benefit authorized, transported, transmitted, transferred, disbursed, or paid in connection with, a presidentially declared major disaster or emergency (as those terms are defined in section 102 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5122)), or affects a financial institution, such person shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned not more than 30 years, or both.
Types of Wire Fraud
There are a great many different situations that have been construed as the basis for federal wire fraud charges. Similarly to mail fraud, the charge of wire fraud can, and often is, brought in tandem with other fraud charges in a federal prosecution.
- For example, in 2011 the Federal Bureau of Investigation issued a wire fraud warning that computer malware was being used to take over bank accounts over the internet and route money via wire transfers to China and Russia.
- Another example of wire fraud charges is the federal prosecution of two West Virginia criminal defense public defenders for allegedly overbilling their court appointment cases: the federal wire fraud statute was used because the two lawyers submitted their attorneys’ fees invoices over “wire transmission.”
- Wire fraud charges were also brought against Richard McDonald, CEO of World Health Alternatives, as part of a collection of federal IRS charges involving McDonald’s misuse of corporate financial accounts. In December 2012, McDonald was sentenced to 130 months in prison and 3 years of supervised release after he pled guilty to securities fraud, tax fraud, and wire fraud.
Elements of Wire Fraud Charges: What the Government Has to Prove With Evidence
According to the United States’ Attorney General’s Office, the following components make up a federal wire fraud charge:
The elements of wire fraud under Section 1343 directly parallel those of the mail fraud statute, but require the use of an interstate telephone call or electronic communication made in furtherance of the scheme. … United States v. Faulkner, 17 F.3d 745, 771 (5th Cir. 1994) (essential elements of wire fraud are: (1) a scheme to defraud and (2) the use of, or causing the use of, interstate wire communications to execute the scheme), cert. denied, 115 S.Ct. 193 (1995); United States v. Cassiere, 4 F.3d 1006 (1st Cir. 1993) (to prove wire fraud government must show (1) scheme to defraud by means of false pretenses, (2) defendant’s knowing and willful participation in scheme with intent to defraud, and (3) use of interstate wire communications in furtherance of scheme); United States v. Maxwell, 920 F.2d 1028, 1035 (D.C. Cir. 1990) (“Wire fraud requires proof of (1) a scheme to defraud; and (2) the use of an interstate wire communication to further the scheme.”).
Defense against Wire Fraud Charges
Like mail fraud, wire fraud allegations are usually tied together with other white collar crimes of fraud (bank fraud, tax fraud, mortgage fraud, etc.) and defending these kinds of federal cases can be complex and time-consuming. Lots of paperwork will be involved, along with the need for expertise in the particular “wire” used and the underlying “scheme” being asserted by the prosecution.
These situations will bring with them the need for an experienced federal fraud criminal defense lawyer along with expert guidance in various areas, such as internet hacking; computer software; banking; insurance; finance; health care; etc.
Given the serious nature of the federal sentencing guidelines, wire fraud charges should be considered serious and even the suspicion of a pre-arrest investigation into fraud charges warrants getting the advice and counsel of a federal criminal defense attorney.
Dallas Wire Fraud Defense Lawyer
As a former prosecutor turned criminal defense lawyer with over 150 jury trials defending clients against charges brought by district attorneys and U.S. federal prosecutors in Dallas County, Tarrant County, and elsewhere in the State of Texas, Board Certified Criminal Lawyer Michael Lowe not only brings his years of experience to each case, he also dedicates 100% of his law practice to the defense of those being accused of a crime under Texas or federal law.
With a streamlined law firm that coordinates its efforts to give each client the personal attention that they need and deserve when fighting against the government and the possibility of jail time, fines, permanent marks on public records, prison incarceration, loss of licensure, loss of jobs, absence from family events and everyday living, Michael Lowe maintains an efficient and excellent criminal trial practice that is ready to help you or your loved ones in your defense against criminal charges from pre-arrest investigation to post-trial appeals.
To discuss your case in a free and completely confidential consultation, please contact Dallas Board Certified Criminal Lawyer Michael Lowe today.