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Former Assistant District Attorney
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney

What is wire fraud?

by | Feb 11, 2020 | Federal Crimes

Not every crime involves physically harming another person. In addition, not every crime involves even meeting the victim. It is possible to commit a crime that does not involve any physical contact with the victim at all. Such crimes generally fall under the label of white-collar crimes because they often involve money. One such crime is wire fraud. 

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, wire fraud is the use of electronic communication or the telephone to commit fraudulent activity. It is similar to mail fraud, which uses the mail to commit a crime. There are four recognized elements on wire fraud, although some courts will only use two of them. 

One of the main elements is that you created a scheme that would enable you to steal someone else’s money through false pretenses. This means that you intended to scam the victim for monetary gain. Intention is sometimes included by a court as an element. In general, though, you meant to harm this person financially. 

The second main element is that you used electronic communication or the telephone to carry out your plan. Generally, this means you planned the scheme to specifically use electronic communication or the telephone. Some courts use planning to use electronic communication or the telephone as an element. In any case, whether planned or not, using the telephone or electronic communication of some type is an essential element of mail fraud. 

To summarize all the elements together: wire fraud is when you create and carry out a scam to get money from a victim through the delivery of a fraudulent scheme by electronic communication or the telephone.