Wire fraud ranks among the most commonly charged federal crimes. The wire that’s being referred to includes any type of telecommunication, which is a somewhat antiquated term that applies even if there are no literal wires directly involved. Today, the term wire communications covers a broad range of transmissions, including:
- Phone calls
- Radio transmissions
- Internet messages
- Social media messages
Essentially, anything sent over the airwaves or via cable communication has the potential for wire fraud. The fraud aspect of this federal crime refers to the act of intentionally deceiving someone to gain a monetary or personal advantage.
What to know about these crimes
In the same way that mail is vital to commerce across states, telecommunication has the potential to facilitate the operation of interstate crimes. Due to this interstate transmission, those who commit wire fraud may receive federal-level charges for the offense. The FBI and the Federal Trade Commission are the two agencies usually in charge of investigating these crimes. However, offenders may also face criminal charges resulting from state laws.
The four elements of wire fraud
In order for a communication to be considered wire fraud, it must meet four legal elements. The defendant has to have either participated in or created the scheme in order to illegally obtain someone else’s money. There must also be the intent to defraud with the creation of this scheme via wire. Finally, wire communications across states must have been made by the defendant.
Because of wire fraud’s broad definition, it may include any picture, sign, signal, sound or writing that is transmitted. It’s important to know what constitutes wire fraud as it is a federal-level crime that is taken seriously by prosecutors.