Wire Fraud Laws – Part II

Wire fraud can be considered a white-collar crime. The government usually relies on the wire fraud statute if other types of criminal statutes such as healthcare fraud or bank fraud would not be applicable.

There are several prima facie elements for wire fraud as we have discussed in previous articles. These elements must be satisfied before charging the defendant with the specific crime. These elements include the scheme to defraud, the scheme involving false material representations, the intent to defraud, and wire transmission in interstate or foreign commerce.

Wire fraud can be investigated by law enforcement agencies, including, but not limited to, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Secret Service, or Internal Revenue Service. The United States Secret Service has been involved in financial and cybercrime investigations for a long duration. It also participates in other investigations such as counterfeit and cryptocurrency fraud investigations. These federal government agencies may team up with local or state government agencies if necessary.

In some cases, defendants have been able to successfully argue that they did not honestly believe in their statements to be false. In other words, they had a good-faith belief that their statements were true and did not intend to defraud plaintiffs. In other cases, defendants have been able to prove their alleged misrepresentations were not material.

There could be serious charges for wire fraud as we have outlined in previous articles. Now, if the case is complicated and the defendant has been charged with other crimes, such as bank fraud or mail fraud, the government may consolidate those claims into the complaint. In addition, the state or federal government investigators may charge the defendant with other crimes – e.g., internet crime, bribery, embezzlement, identity theft, conspiracy, unauthorized access to computers (i.e., hacking) – if there is reliable evidence.

So, in summary, if a defendant voluntarily or intentionally participates in or devises a scheme to defraud the plaintiff of money/property and it was foreseeable that interstate wire communications (e.g., radio, phone, internet) would be used to promote the scheme, then the defendant could be charged with wire fraud. Please refer to 18 U.S.C. §§ 1343 and 1349 for more information.

It’s important to remind our readers that the culprits can use various methods to commit the wire fraud scheme. For example, malicious software (a/k/a “malware”), phishing, vishing, smishing, or email hacking have been used in previous cases. Vishing takes place when the culprit makes a phone call or leaves a voicemail claiming to be from a reputable company to obtain personal information – e.g., credit card, bank account information. Smishing takes place when the culprit sends a text message claiming to be from a reputable company to obtain personal information such as passwords. In some cases, the attackers utilize automation by using VoIP services to send text messages to multiple victims.

Our law firm can manage a legal action that’s related to mail and wire fraud in state and federal courts. We are ready to assist our clients in matters related to internet, technology, and wire fraud laws. Please contact our law firm to speak with an internet attorney at your earliest convenience.