Wire fraud is a type of white-collar crime in which an individual uses electronic communication, such as the internet or phones, to commit acts of fraud. Wire fraud can be committed by a single person or involve a conspiracy of multiple parties.
Wire fraud is considered a serious crime at both the state and federal level and can carry heavy penalties. If you have been charged with wire fraud, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced white collar criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
What Is Wire Fraud?
Several types of deception can be considered wire fraud, including:
- Transferring funds from one bank account to another without authorization
- Selling counterfeit goods or services over the internet
- Posing as a legitimate business in order to obtain credit card information or other financial information
- Forging documents or signatures to gain access to sensitive financial information
- Making false promises or representations while soliciting investments
- Phishing or vishing
Schemes like phishing involve sending an email or message through electronic means that purports to be from a trustworthy source but is in fact part of an attempt to induce the receiver to send valuable information or money. Vishing, on the other hand, involves making phone calls or leaving voicemails that pretend to be from a reputable person in order to convince the receiver to share their banking or credit card information.
Wire Fraud in Wisconsin
According to Wisconsin Criminal Statute 943.90, whoever “transmits or causes to be transmitted electrically, electromagnetically, or by light any signal, writing, image, sound, or data for the purposes of committing a financial crime is guilty of a Class H felony.” As such, it can be punishable by:
- Up to 6 years in prison
- A maximum fine of $10,000
A felony conviction can also have other lifelong consequences, including the loss of your right to bear arms, vote, hold office, and/or serve on a jury. A felony conviction can also impact your employment prospects.
Wire Fraud as a Federal Crime
Because wire fraud commonly involves electronic communication that crosses state lines, the federal government will typically claim jurisdiction. In fact, nearly all internet, telephone, and other electronic communications are considered interstate commerce.
Under 18 U.S. Code § 1343, a conviction of wire fraud carries severe penalties, including:
- Up to 20 years in federal prison
- Up to $250,000 in fines for individuals
- Up to $500,000 in fines for organizations
If the crime involved a federal financial institution or a presidentially declared disaster, penalties can be increased to:
- Up to 30 years in federal prison
- Up to $1,000,000 in fines
It is also important to keep in mind that federal prosecutors can charge you separately for each instance of wire fraud. For example, if a person is accused of sending 10 phishing emails, each of those emails would count as 1 count of wire fraud, which would mean that that person could be charged with 10 counts of wire fraud.
It is also possible to be charged for these crimes at both the state and federal level at the same time.
How the Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella Can Help
If you have been charged with wire fraud, there are many different strategies that a seasoned criminal defense attorney can take to defend you. Depending on the circumstances, your attorney may look for ways to prove that you lacked the requisite intent or knowledge to commit fraud. They may question the evidence and documentation used in building the case against you. They may be able to defend you on the basis of “puffery,” or the use of exaggeration for the purpose of making a sale that is not considered a criminal offense.
Whatever the circumstances, the Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella is dedicated to defending our clients and helping them to protect their rights in court.
Contact us today online or call us at (414) 882-8382 to schedule a case evaluation.