Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343
Under 18 USC §1343, it is illegal for anyone to use or cause the use of “wire, radio, or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce” for the purposes of executing a scheme to defraud or to obtain money by false or fraudulent pretenses.
Wire fraud is one of the most commonly charged white collar federal crimes. A conviction of wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Individuals who commit wire fraud are typically attempting to collect their victims’ personal financial information. This information allows them to use the victims’ credit cards or transfer money from the victims’ bank account. In recent years, the internet has been commonly used as a means to defraud victims. The fraud itself does not have to involve the wire communication, but instead all that must be proven is that the wire communication was used during the course of the fraud. Additionally, wire fraud now encompasses not only the use of wires, radio, or television but also email, internet, phone calls, text messages, Facebook, Skype, videoconferencing, Twitter, and any other form of available electronic communication.
For behavior to be considered fraudulent, any misrepresentation must be related to the scheme. It must either help the defendant perpetrate the crime or convince a purported victim to believe the defendant. To convict a defendant of wire fraud, the Assistant United States Attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt three elements:
- There was a scheme utilized or instated by the defendant and he or she devised the scheme to defraud another;
- A defendant must intend to defraud another; and
- Interstate wires were used or caused to be used during the course of the scheme to defraud. It is irrelevant whether the wire in a wire fraud case is legal and the wire need not be sent by the defendant for it to fall under the confines of 18 USC §1343. The wire must simply relate to the crime for the third element of wire fraud to be satisfied.
Wire fraud is a serious offense and a conviction can result in life altering consequences. A conviction of wire fraud may result in a 20 year federal prison sentence. Additionally, fines up to $250,000 may be imposed depending on whether a defendant has the means to pay such fines. It the victim of the wire fraud is a financial institution, a judge may increase the prison sentence, fines, or both. The prison sentence may be increased from 20 to 30 years and the fines may be increased from $250,000 to $1,000,000.
For more information on Wire Fraud, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (212) 500-3273 today.
Russ Kofman is a founding partner in Lebedin Kofman LLP. He has extensive litigation experience defending clients accused of felonies, misdemeanors and DWI/ DUI crimes.