Wire fraud is a catch-all term for any type of fraud or scheme to defraud that involves an interstate communications device. Cell phones, landlines, internet connections, computers, tablets or any type of messaging devices that were used to send or receive messages or calls across state lines count as interstate communication devices. This type of white collar crime is often committed through emails, phone calls or messages. It’s important to note that a person doesn’t actually have to be defrauded for the charges or conviction to be made. In fact, there just has to have been an attempt to defraud using an interstate communication device.
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Interstate Wire Communications
Obviously, the most popular type of interstate wire communication is a cell phone. Whether the scheme involved calls, messages or emails makes no difference. If a cell phone was used to transmit communications across state lines that is considered interstate wire communication. Unlike mail fraud, this type of fraud is generally electronic in nature. An email, a text message or even a quick 30-second phone call can be considered evidence in a case involving wire fraud.
Attempt to Defraud
The federal government takes wire fraud and other types of white collar crimes very seriously. In fact, you don’t even have to be very good or successful at all with wire fraud to be charged or even convicted. The prosecution will be looking to prove that there was intent to defraud. It won’t matter that nobody was actually defrauded if they can prove there was intent. Unfortunately, the fact that nobody lost money in your particular case can’t be used as a defense. In a case involving wire fraud, it doesn’t necessarily matter if anybody actually lost money.
Defenses to Wire Fraud
Although each case has its own unique and different set of circumstances, there are a few pretty commonly used defenses to wire fraud. First, there is the good faith defense. A good faith defense is based on the fact that you never had any intent to defraud. It will be necessary for your lawyer to prove that you acted within all the legal requirements and that you had no intention to defraud or to obtain money, property or anything of value for the so-called act of wire fraud. Another commonly used defense to wire fraud is puffery. Puffery, exaggeration, flattery or puffing are commonly used in sales calls. Just because these statements aren’t strictly literally truthful, doesn’t mean you’re trying to defraud somebody. Everybody wants to boost their products up in the eyes of potentially buyers. Where you get into trouble is when deliberate factual misrepresentations are concerned.
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Wire fraud is a serious federal offense and carries very strict felony penalties. Just one act of wire fraud can result in up to 20 years in prison, and that’s if your case isn’t very complicated. If financial institutions or disaster relief services and agencies are involved, you could be looking at up to 30 years in a federal correctional facility per charge and fines of up to $ 1 million. These charges can essentially get you locked up for life, whether anybody was actually a victim to the fraud or not.
Additional Charges For Additional Phone Calls
Every single act of wire fraud carries a separate charge. This means that every phone call and every email can carry additional charges. If you do the math on three phone calls and one email involving wire fraud, you’re looking at 80 years behind bars, if convicted. Again, it makes no difference if somebody was actually defrauded or not. If the prosecution can prove that there was an intent to defraud on each and every interstate wire communication, they can use those to add additional charges to the case. Since the stakes are so high in cases involving wire fraud, the sooner you talk to a lawyer, the better.
When to Call a Criminal Defense Attorney
After any type of charge involving white collar crime, your first move needs to be calling your lawyer. Don’t take these charges lightly, because the government sure doesn’t. They’re looking to throw the book at white collar criminals and fraudsters, regardless of whether or not there were any victims involved. Your lawyer can get the ball rolling on your defense and ensure the best possible outcome for your particular case.
If you or somebody you love has been charged with wire fraud in the Jackson Metro Area or in any of the surrounding communities, contact the skilled and proven legal team at Coxwell & Associates, PLLC at (601) 265-7766 for an immediate case consultation.