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Orange County Wire Fraud Defense Lawyer

What is an Example of Wire Fraud?

Wire fraud is a federal crime that occurs when someone voluntarily and intentionally uses an interstate communications device (e.g., a telephone) to defraud another of property or anything of value. Note that a person cannot accidentally commit wire fraud; to secure a conviction, federal prosecutors must show that a defendant acted with the intent to fraudulently deprive someone of money, property, or something of value.

To commit wire fraud, a person must use some kind of interstate communications device to send, receive, or otherwise transmit messages across state lines. Wire fraud charges can arise when someone uses a phone, a fax machine, e-mail, or any kind of Internet communication device to transmit messages. For example, if a person trying to sell land they do not own uses a computer to send an email to convince another person to purchase the land, they can be guilty of wire fraud.

Be aware that a conviction for wire fraud does not require that the alleged victim actually lose money. Because the wire fraud statute prohibits engaging in a “scheme to defraud,” a person can be convicted of wire fraud even if no other person suffers any actual loss. In other words, attempting to obtain the money is enough to be convicted of this crime. Further, every act of wire fraud constitutes a separate offense. For example, if someone engaged in a scheme to defraud made 10 phone calls to people as part of that scheme, they have committed 10 separate acts of wire fraud.

It is worth noting that prosecutors tend to use wire fraud as a “catch all” type of crime that applies broadly to fraud offenses. For example, if federal prosecutors investigate someone for securities fraud, they may find that the securities fraud activity involved an interstate communications device, in which the prosecutors can charge the defendant with wire fraud as well.

Penalties and Defense Options

A person convicted of wire fraud could face fines and up to 20 years in prison. However, if the wire fraud scheme affects a financial institution or is connected to a presidentially declared disaster or emergency, the potential penalties could go up to $1,000,000 in fines and up to 30 years in prison.

There are a few defenses available to anyone charged with wire fraud, depending on the circumstances. One defense is to argue good faith. Recall that a scheme to defraud relies on intending to defraud someone of something of value. A person who acts in good faith does not commit fraud because they do not have the intent to enter into a scheme to defraud another person, such as acting on accident.

Another defense could be arguing “puffery.” Salespeople often use flattery, exaggerations, or opinionated statements in their attempts to persuade the other party, and this is not necessarily considered fraud. For example, a salesman who states over the phone that a product is the best of the type is not likely committing wire fraud, as the average listener would not rely on that statement to make a purchase. (However, alleging that the product is made of solid gold when it’s not goes beyond puffery and can indicate an intent to defraud).

If you have been accused of wire fraud, contact an experienced lawyer immediately for legal support. The consequences upon conviction can be severe and a lot is at stake in fraud cases, particularly those involving finances. Attorney Diane C. Bass has years of professional experience at the state and federal level and can build a strong defense for you in court against your harsh wire fraud charges.

Contact the Law Office of Diane C. Bass, A Professional Law Corporation online or by phone at (949) 264-0696 today for a free consultation.

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