About Wire Fraud Charges, Laws & Convictions
In the US, wire fraud is defined as a scam that is concocted by a criminal to obtain money by making a material misrepresentation of him or herself by any kind of electronic communication, including Internet, radio, TV or telephone. Wire fraud has been a crime on the federal level in the US since 1873. It is considered a serious federal crime because it often affects interstate commerce.
The US Supreme Court has stated that a ‘material misrepresentation’ is a situation that has the possibility of having an influence over a decision on the part of the intended victim.
Some of the most common types of wire fraud have been Internet sales fraud, phony sales of land, shady advertising, insurance scams and fake charitable organizations. Essentially, any time electronic communication is used to defraud a victim of money or property, a wire fraud charge can be brought. Each act of fraud that is committed typically will bring a separate wire fraud charge.
The Federal Wire Fraud Act states that any attempt to defraud by any type of electronic communication (such as Internet, TV, radio or telephone) in either foreign or US commerce is by definition a federal crime. U.S.C. 1341 and 1343 are the relevant statutes covering maul and wire fraud.
About the Laws in Massachusetts
In Massachusetts and some other states, wire fraud is often used by prosecutors against people who cannot be charged with more serious crimes because there is not enough evidence. Wire fraud is often used to prosecute all kinds of crimes. It is sort of a ‘back door’ to prosecute some criminal cases where there is not a lot of strong evidence. This is why it is important in Massachusetts to have a strong criminal defense attorney who is experienced in wire fraud.
The wire fraud statutes are often used in this state to press charges for a variety of crimes, if they were conducted in any way through the mail or any sort of electronic communication. Some of the most common types of crimes charged in this way are:
- Fraud on the Internet
- Fraud in banks
- Auction fraud
- False charity soliciting
- Work at home scams
A smart prosecutor in Massachusetts might be able to get you on a wire fraud conviction if the scam was at all discussed on the phone. As you can see, the wire fraud statutes are a clever catch all way that crimes may be prosecuted.
Sentencing for Wire fraud in Massachusetts
The sentencing for wire fraud in this state is similar to the federal sentencing guidelines that are found at 18 U.S.C. 1343. The severity of the sentence largely depends on whether it was your first offense, and whether you committed the crime against a person or an institution.
If it was committed against a person, you can get up to 20 years in prison and fined up to $5,000. If you commit wire fraud against an institution, you can be imprisoned for up to 30 years and fined up to $1,000,000.
Statistics for Wire Fraud
The FBI collects information about fraud cases from local law enforcement, but it does not publish wire fraud statistics on either the federal or state level. However, there were 206,884 complaints of Internet wire fraud in 2007, and 275,284 in 2008. So, this is a growing problem.
If you have been accused of wire fraud, or any other serious crime, contact the Law Offices of Geoffrey G. Nathan, a top notch criminal defense attorney in Massachusetts. He has the experience and legal skills needed to handle serious criminal matters. To arrange an office consultation, contact us now.