Wire fraud is a federal offense because it is committed across state or international lines.
It entails any scheme to defraud another person via electronic communications, either internationally or across state lines.
The offense is closely related to the federal offense of mail fraud, which involves all fraud offenses that are committed via the use of the U.S. mail or other interstate carriers.
The federal wire fraud statute lists radio, or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce or any writings, signs, signals, pictures, or sounds.
The first mail fraud laws were enacted in 1872. Congress was revising the nation’s postal laws.
In the case of McNally v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court held the law applied to any act that had the effect of defrauding by representations as to the past or present, as well as suggestions and promises as to the future.
The wire fraud statute was enacted in 1952. Congress extended the mail fraud statute to include newer communications technologies. Federal courts typically hold that wire fraud is identical to mail fraud under federal law, with the exception of the type of communication used.
Many states have enacted laws to prohibit acts that may be considered to be wire fraud. If you create electronic codes for fraudulent use in telephone services, you commit a felony under New York state code. However, you can be hit with the federal offense if the wire fraud occurred within Texas and did not cross state lines.
The onus is not on the federal prosecutor to show the accused knowingly used interstate wires. If you defrauded other people in Texas from Dallas or Fort Worth, you could be prosecuted for the federal offense of wire fraud if the e-mail server was sited outside Texas.
To prove wire fraud a prosecutor must prove the following elements beyond all reasonable doubt.
Even if the defendant did not defraud anyone, he or she can be convicted of wire fraud.
The state must prove the defendant intended to defraud a victim, or at the very least acted with knowledge that wire communications were used to transmit a fraudulent representation.
The state can establish the defense by proving that the defendant used a wire transmission to commit or further the fraudulent scheme. The 1954 case of Pereira v. United States established the accused committed an offense if that outcome was reasonably foreseeable “in the ordinary course of business.” The case involved a scheme to defraud a wealthy widow of her property.
Wire fraud is a component of many other white collar crimes such as insurance and bank fraud and electronic bank transfers intended to further tax evasion schemes.
If you or a family member has been accused of mail fraud, wire fraud or another offense in the Fort Worth area of Texas, please call our criminal defense lawyers today.