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State and Federal Criminal Defense Representation

What is Wire Fraud?


Have You Been Charged With Wire Fraud?

If you are charged with wire fraud, contact a skilled wire fraud attorney immediately. If you are convicted of wire fraud in federal court, in some cases, you could be imprisoned for several decades and fined up to $1 million. What constitutes wire fraud?

Wire fraud is any scheme or plan to obtain or defraud property or money falsely or fraudulently by using electronic communication methods and writing, signals, signs, sounds, and/or pictures. Wire fraud is one of the most frequently charged white-collar crimes in the United States.

Wire fraud is typically a federal charge, but there is also a state law against wire fraud in California. If you’re accused of wire fraud – and charged in either a state or federal court in Southern California – contact a knowledgeable wire fraud lawyer as swiftly as possible.

How is Someone Convicted of Federal Wire Fraud?

Other charges typically accompany a federal wire fraud charge – that is, related charges such as identity theft, embezzlement, forgery, mortgage fraud, health care fraud, real estate fraud, bank fraud, or money laundering. The details of each case determine the penalties for a conviction.

Wired electronic communications include telephones, radio, television, and the internet. In a federal wire fraud trial, the government must prove five “elements of the crime” in order to win a wire fraud conviction:

  1. The defendant had criminal intent to defraud his or her victim.
  2. The defendant conducted or planned a specific way to defraud his or her victim.
  3. The defendant’s deceptions were a central element of that plan.
  4. The defendant used wired, electronic communications to commit the fraud.
  5. The communication crossed a state line, and the fraud was a federal crime.

What Are Some Examples of Wire Fraud?

You probably encounter some attempt at wire fraud almost any time you go online. Wire fraud can happen on your telephone too. It includes telemarketing and internet scams, phishing scams that use email, and efforts by criminals to sell items they don’t own or services they can’t deliver.

“Phishing” is the fraudulent use of email to obtain personal information like someone’s bank account numbers or Social Security number. Telemarketing scam artists try to obtain the same information from you over the phone.

Upon obtaining your personal information, a wire fraud criminal may apply for credit cards or a major loan – and make purchases – using your name and personal information.

Protect Yourself From Wire Fraud

Never allow anyone online to tell you that you’ve won a prize or a lottery, but you must provide personal information and/or cash to obtain that prize or lottery. You might be told that you must pay a “processing fee.” Don’t fall for it.

Online real estate fraud is on the rise. If you’re looking to rent a home and you find one online, be absolutely certain that if you give someone a security deposit, that person is the owner of the home. Do whatever research or “due diligence” is required to protect yourself from wire fraud.

How is Wire Fraud Penalized?

As of 2022, according to the FBI, consumers in the United States lose about $2 billion annually to wire fraud. Many wire fraud cases now involve new payment apps such as Venmo and Zelle. Other cases involve conventional transfers from checking and savings accounts.

As mentioned above, if you are convicted of a federal wire fraud charge, you could serve a lengthy prison term and pay a costly fine. Wire fraud may be prosecuted whether or not the fraud succeeded. The intentional attempt to commit wire fraud is all that’s required for a conviction.

Additionally, each act of wire fraud may be charged as a separate federal offense. This means that if a perpetrator defrauds enough people and is convicted of those charges, he or she could be sentenced to hundreds of years in federal prison and millions of dollars in fines.

How Can You Fight a Wire Fraud Charge?

If you are charged with wire fraud, the strategy that an Orange County wire fraud lawyer will use in your defense will depend on the details of your case. Your attorney may argue that you acted in good faith and did not intend to defraud the other party.

Other possible defenses include:

  1.  You’ve been misidentified or “framed” and someone else committed the wire fraud.
  2.  The allegation against you is fabricated and no wire fraud actually occurred.

Your Orange County wire fraud attorney will gather evidence and line up witnesses on your behalf; will cast doubt on the prosecution’s witnesses and evidence; and will seek to have the charge dropped or reduced or to have the case dismissed.

If You Are Charged With Wire Fraud

In many important respects, wire fraud is like any other crime. If you are charged with wire fraud – now or in the future – and you are placed under arrest, you have the right to remain silent and the right to legal counsel. It’s imperative for you to exercise those rights.

If the police or a prosecutor want to ask you questions, you can simply and politely say, “I would prefer to exercise my right to remain silent until my attorney can be present,” and say no more. Then, contact a Southern California wire fraud attorney at your first opportunity.

About Attorney Diane C. Bass

Federal and state prosecutors pursue wire fraud charges aggressively, so if you are charged with wire fraud in either a state or federal court, you must be represented by a criminal defense attorney who will fight just as aggressively on your behalf.

Don’t even think about trying to act as your own attorney. Too much will be at stake, and any mistake in a wire fraud case could send you to prison for years or even decades. Don’t try to negotiate your own plea deal either. Federal law is far too complicated to take that kind of risk.

Instead, take your wire fraud case to California criminal defense attorney Diane C. Bass. With more than 25 years of criminal defense experience, she has successfully represented defendants accused of wire fraud, bank fraud, racketeering, and criminal conspiracy charges.

Wire fraud is a serious crime. If you are charged with wire fraud, take the charge seriously, and immediately contact the law offices of criminal defense attorney Diane C. Bass in Irvine by calling (949) 990-4195.

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