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Wire Fraud

Wire Fraud Charges in South Carolina: A Federal Crime with Big Penalties

What is Wire Fraud?

Simply put, wire fraud is any attempt to defraud people or institutions of their money or property by using any sort of wired communication. The two parts of this charge, fraud and wired communication, are defined as follows:

Fraud is behavior that falsely represents reality. For example, a fraudulent behavior would be lying to the property owner about past or current facts in an attempt to gain the property.

Wired communication is any form of long-distance electronic communication, such as phone, television, fax, radio, or the internet.

Because wired communication involves multiple states, wire fraud is a federal crime, meaning that it is tried in federal court and carries serious penalties. A person can be charged with wire fraud even if they did not intend to use interstate wired communication.

Someone can also be charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. This is when someone agrees to help another person commit wire fraud. A person does need to know about the actual wrongdoing involved in the fraud to be charged with this crime.

There are different ways one can commit wire fraud:

  • Taking part in email scams.
  • Taking part in telemarketing scams.
  • Using wired communications to bribe or blackmail public officials.
  • Taking advantage of a presidentially declared disaster or emergency to defraud private individuals, public institutions, or government agencies.

What does it mean to be charged with Wire Fraud?

If somebody is charged with wire fraud, it means that they attempted to or successfully completed defrauding people of money or property using wired communications. If someone is convicted, they could face heavy fines and jail time.

Under normal circumstances, someone convicted of wire fraud can face a fine of up to $250,000, and a jail sentence of up to 20 years. If someone commits wire fraud in connection to a disaster or national emergency, or targets a bank, they can face a fine of up to $1,000,000, and a jail sentence of up to 30 years. Other circumstances, like the use of telemarketing or targeting senior citizens, can add additional jail time.

Example of Wire Fraud

An example of wire fraud would be a scam email. Let’s say that Bill sends Ted an email. In that email, Bill claims to be Ted’s lost Uncle George. This “Uncle George” writes that he would like to give Ted a large sum of money. The email also says Ted has to provide his bank account info to receive the money. Ted provides “Uncle George” with his bank info. Bill takes all of Ted’s money from his bank account.

Definition of Wire Fraud

There are many ways to commit wire fraud. US Code 1343 defines it this way:

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. If the violation occurs in relation to, or involving any benefit authorized, transported, transmitted, transferred, disbursed, or paid in connection with, a presidentially declared major disaster or emergency (as those terms are defined in section 102 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5122)), or affects a financial institution, such person shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned not more than 30 years, or both.

While that might be difficult to understand, a lawyer can clear up any confusion and answer any questions.

Who should I call if I’ve been charged with Wire Fraud?

If you’ve been charged with wire fraud, you’ll need a lawyer as soon as possible. Contact a criminal defense attorney who can help you make the right decisions on your case. Choose someone with experience.

If you’re looking for a wire fraud lawyer in Lexington or South Carolina, choose someone who knows the court system in South Carolina. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you face these charges.

Judah VanSyckel is a Lexington lawyer with experience. Contact our offices to set up a free consultation.