Wire fraud is a serious federal offense that involves the use of electronic communications to engage in fraudulent activities. This crime typically falls under the jurisdiction of federal law enforcement agencies, and its investigation and prosecution can lead to significant penalties for those found guilty.
Understanding the elements of wire fraud may help you better protect yourself against these charges.
Intent to defraud
Wire fraud charges require evidence of an intent to defraud. That means you must have knowingly engaged in a plan to deceive others for financial gain.
Use of electronic communications
Wire fraud refers to the use of electronic communications for fraudulent ventures. Any transmission of information through electronic platforms can constitute wire fraud if you use that information to defraud others.
For a wire fraud charge to reach a federal criminal level, the transaction must happen across state lines or internationally. If the transaction happens within your state’s borders, that constitutes a state-level crime, not a federal offense.
Damages to the victim
Wire fraud also requires a victim who suffered financial loss or potential loss as a result of the scheme. Individuals, businesses and government entities all qualify.
The FTC received nearly 3 million fraud reports from consumers in 2021. This reflects an increase over 2020, which shows the growing concern about these types of crimes. Wire fraud convictions can result in severe penalties, including fines and imprisonment. Understand the elements that constitute wire fraud so that you can minimize your risk of potential criminal charges and the complications that often follow.