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Wire Fraud Protecting Your Rights & Defending Your Future

Federal Wire Fraud Defense

Involve a St. Louis Federal Crime Lawyer

Wire fraud is an extremely serious federal crime that carries some of the steepest penalties upon a conviction. According to 18 U.S. Code § 1343, fraud by wire, radio or television, a person who commits this crime may face up to 20 years in prison. If the intended or actual victim of such fraud is a financial institution, the penalties may increase to up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million.

If you are looking for hard-hitting defense counsel in the face of federal charges for wire fraud or any similar offense, you need look no further than The Hammer Law Firm, LLC. These complex cases require the undivided attention of a team that has the resources and experience to face off against seasoned federal prosecutors and federal agencies that have seemingly limitless resources to dedicate to the investigation and prosecution of alleged offenders. With our skill and commitment, you can rest assured that your case will be in good hands when you entrust it to a St. Louis federal crime lawyer at our firm.

Let us take a closer look at wire fraud and how this offense is defined under federal law. According to 18 USC § 1343, the following acts are described as "fraud by wire, radio or television:"

Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, transmits or causes to be transmitted by means of wire, radio, or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce, any writings, signs, signals, pictures, or sounds for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.

The section goes on to discuss enhanced penalties for defrauding or attempting to defraud a financial institution or for a scheme involving a presidentially declared major disaster or emergency. In these scenarios, a defendant may face up to 30 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $1 million.

Wire Fraud Explained

What is unique about wire fraud charges, and fraud charges in general, is that they may be filed even if the alleged scheme is unsuccessful or is not actually completed. As long as the scheme was devised and some step was taken toward its completion, a defendant may be charged. Wire fraud charges may apply if any type of wire, radio or television was used to relay information or communication related to the scheme. A fraudulent television ad or scheme using email or online advertising may be considered wire fraud.

The key elements of wire fraud are:

  1. Scheme to Defraud: There must be a deliberate plan or scheme to defraud or obtain money or property by false pretenses, representations, or promises.
  2. Use of Wire Communication: The scheme must involve the transmission of writings, signs, signals, pictures, or sounds by means of wire, radio, or television communication across state lines or internationally.
  3. Intent: The perpetrator must have the specific intent to commit fraud.

Common examples of wire fraud include:

  • Phishing ScamsFraudsters send emails pretending to be from legitimate companies to trick recipients into providing personal information, such as passwords, credit card numbers, or Social Security numbers.
  • Online Auction and Retail FraudScammers create fake listings on auction sites or online marketplaces. Buyers pay for goods that are never delivered or receive counterfeit or significantly inferior products.
  • Investment FraudFraudulent investment schemes, such as Ponzi or pyramid schemes, are promoted via emails, websites, or social media, promising high returns with little risk.
  • Business Email Compromise (BEC)Cybercriminals target companies by hacking into or spoofing business email accounts to trick employees into transferring money or sensitive data.
  • Advance Fee SchemesVictims are promised significant financial returns if they pay an upfront fee. Once the fee is paid, the scammer disappears, and the promised returns never materialize.
  • Romance ScamsPerpetrators create fake profiles on dating sites and social media to establish romantic relationships, eventually convincing victims to send money under false pretenses.
  • Charity FraudScammers pose as charitable organizations or disaster relief efforts to solicit donations that are then pocketed by the fraudsters.
  • Employment ScamsJob seekers are targeted with offers for non-existent jobs. Victims may be asked to pay upfront for background checks or training materials or to provide personal information for identity theft.
  • Lottery or Sweepstakes FraudVictims are notified that they have won a lottery or sweepstakes they never entered and are asked to pay fees or taxes to claim their prize.
  • Credit Card FraudCriminals use stolen credit card information to make unauthorized purchases or to withdraw funds.
  • Tech Support ScamsScammers pose as tech support agents from well-known companies, claiming the victim's computer has a virus or other issue. They trick victims into paying for unnecessary services or gaining remote access to their computers to steal personal information.
  • Real Estate FraudCriminals intercept emails between homebuyers and real estate agents or title companies, sending fraudulent wiring instructions for down payments or closing costs, diverting the funds to their accounts.
  • Utility ScamsFraudsters call or email pretending to be from a utility company, claiming the victim's service will be shut off unless immediate payment is made. Payments are often requested through wire transfers or prepaid debit cards.
  • Ransomware AttacksCybercriminals infect a victim's computer with ransomware, encrypting their files and demanding a ransom, typically payable via wire transfer or cryptocurrency, to restore access to the data.
  • Social Media Scams: Scammers use social media platforms to promote fake contests, giveaways, or investment opportunities. Victims are often asked to provide personal information or wire money to claim a prize or participate in an investment.

Wire fraud charges may also be filed in conjunction with other federal crimes or white collar crimes, such as RICO violations, tax fraud, bank fraud or conspiracy. The alleged commission of connected crimes may only increase the potential term of imprisonment, fines and restitution a defendant may face. Defendants in these cases may also face federal seizure of property and assets and other complex issues unique to federal cases.

If you have been contacted by federal investigators, have been charged with wire fraud or have any reason to believe you are the subject of a fraud investigation, you need to move quickly to protect your interests. Call a St. Louis federal criminal defense attorney at our firm for experienced insight and find out what we can do to assert your rights. We may be able to begin counteracting the investigation and can take steps to help you avoid an arrest or formal charges in the first place. 

Taking a proactive approach is the best way to address legal matters of this kind. To get started, contact our offices for a confidential consultation.

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