Wire Fraud Explained
Wire fraud charges, as well as fraud charges in general, possess a unique characteristic: they can be brought forth even if the alleged scheme fails or remains incomplete. The crucial factor lies in the formulation of the scheme and the execution of any step towards its realization. If any form of wire, radio, or television is employed to transmit information or communication pertaining to the scheme, wire fraud charges may be applicable. This encompasses deceptive television advertisements, email-based schemes, or online advertising campaigns.
Moreover, wire fraud charges can be combined with other federal crimes or white-collar offenses, including RICO violations, credit card fraud, bank fraud, or conspiracy. The involvement in multiple illegal activities may heighten the potential penalties, encompassing imprisonment, fines, and restitution. Defendants in such cases may also confront federal seizure of assets and other intricate matters specific to federal proceedings. Noteworthy offenses related to wire fraud encompass:
Fraudulent activities frequently intersect, such as in the case of mail fraud and wire fraud. These two crimes bear remarkable similarities, with the sole distinction being the involvement of the U.S. Postal Service in mail fraud. This distinction carries significant consequences, potentially resulting in an extended prison sentence. In fact, the maximum penalty for mail fraud is a staggering 20 years of imprisonment.
Referred to as cybercrime, any fraudulent activity conducted online is categorized as internet fraud. If your alleged offense involved the use of email, charges related to internet fraud could be added to your case. In the most severe cases, this could result in an additional 20-year prison sentence at the federal level.
Securities fraud can be prosecuted as a state crime. However, if you are already facing a wire fraud charge, it is likely that you will be prosecuted at the federal level. A security refers to a business arrangement involving the exchange of ownership in a business or the right to repayment of debt. Thus, it is closely linked to wire fraud. The maximum penalty for this offense is an additional 16 years in prison.
When you consider the cumulative effect of all these related offenses, it becomes evident that you could potentially spend the remainder of your life in federal prison. This underscores the importance of retaining a strong and capable Las Vegas wire fraud lawyer to defend you. It is not sufficient to build a defense solely around one charge. An experienced criminal defense attorney will adeptly address any additional charges that may be brought against you during the trial.
Key Elements Of Wire Fraud Crimes
In essence, fraud involves intentionally or recklessly spreading falsehoods with the intention of depriving an unsuspecting victim of their money, property, or other valuable assets. To establish a case of wire fraud, a federal prosecutor must convincingly demonstrate, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant fulfilled all of the following criteria:
- Engaged in a scheme to commit fraud, such as making a “material misrepresentation” or “deceitful omission” about something
- Utilized some sort of wire mechanism, such as a television, radio, or the internet, to further the scheme; and
- Possessed the necessary “mens rea,” or mental state
In cases of wire fraud, the defendant must possess the specific intent required to commit fraud. It is crucial to understand that a defendant can be convicted for attempted wire fraud, even if the actual act of wire fraud was not committed. The penalties for attempted wire fraud are the same as those for a conviction of wire fraud.
Penalties For Wire Fraud Charges In Nevada
Offenders convicted under § 1343 may face imprisonment for up to 20 years, fines of up to $250,000, or both. However, if the violation affects a financial institution or involves any benefit related to a presidentially declared major disaster or emergency as defined by the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. § 5122), the penalties for conviction increase significantly. In such cases, the maximum prison sentence can be up to 30 years, fines can reach up to $1,000,000, or both.
Moreover, if the violations involve telemarketing or email marketing, convicted offenders will face an additional 5-year sentence on top of any prescribed sentence under the wire fraud statute. However, if the victims are over the age of 55, or if the defendant specifically targeted individuals in this age group, the penalty for wire fraud violation increases by an additional 10 years.
It is worth noting that attempting or conspiring to commit a wire fraud offense is also punishable under 18 U.S.C. § 1349. The penalties for such attempts or conspiracies are the same as those for the underlying wire fraud offense that was the object of the attempt or conspiracy.
The States Sentencing Commission (USSC) releases a federal Sentencing Guidelines Manual that provides an advisory sentence range for all federal offenses. These guidelines assist judges in determining the appropriate sentence for a defendant found guilty of a specific offense. While judges are still obligated to follow mandatory sentences for a given offense, they have the discretion to deviate from the recommended sentencing range by increasing or decreasing the base offense level penalty. The Guidelines also outline certain factors that can either enhance or mitigate an offender’s final sentence.
In the case of wire fraud violations, §2B1.1 of the Guidelines is applicable. The base offense level for a § 1343 violation is 7, resulting in a sentencing range of 0 to 21 months in federal prison, depending on the offender’s criminal history. Additionally, specific characteristics of the offense, such as the amount of loss involved, can further impact the offense level.