There are many, many different types of fraud charges, both under state and federal law. By definition, fraud refers to crimes that involve intentionally deceiving another person or entity for purposes of monetary or personal gain.
Wire fraud, specifically, involves fraud that takes place over interstate phone lines or electronic communication. As technology has evolved over time, many wire fraud cases involve the internet, such as email "phishing," in which a scammer sends out mass emails purporting to be from reputable parties in effort to convince email recipients to share their passwords, credit card numbers or other personal information.
However, in many cases, wire fraud allegations are part of a larger criminal investigation. This is because wire fraud allegations often allow federal agencies, such as the FBI, to investigate and prosecute underlying crimes.
What are the elements of wire fraud?
Prosecutors have to prove a number of elements before someone can be found guilty of wire fraud. The person charged must have organized or been involved in a scheme to defraud another person or entity out of money. The person must have had the intention to defraud the person or entity. It must have been reasonably foreseeable that the scheme would be carried out using wire communications. Finally, the person charged must have actually used interstate wire communications.
What are potential defenses to wire fraud?
Anyone who is accused of wire fraud will need an effective criminal defense lawyer on their side to help achieve the most favorable outcome possible. These cases typically involve complex financial information and a significant amount of evidence that must be carefully examined.
With the right lawyer, it may be possible to poke holes in the prosecution's case, such as by questioning the prosecution's evidence, or lack thereof, that the person had any intent of committing fraud. A person has to do more than pass on false information. They typically have to know that the information was false and intend to use it to defraud.
An effective lawyer may also be able to get certain evidence suppressed, or disallowed at trial. This may be possible if investigators violated the law, such as with an unlawful wiretap.
Wire fraud charges are serious, and a conviction could result in significant fines and/or time in jail or prison.