The Serious Consequences of a Wire Fraud Conviction
Recent news articles are reporting about a Florida man who is facing wire fraud charges in federal court. Wire fraud is an offense often associated with financial crimes. Though it may seem like a harmless white collar offense on its face, wire fraud is a serious crime that, upon conviction, carries significant legal penalties.
According to a Chicago Sun Times article, the defendant allegedly persuaded individuals to loan him money by telling them that he was the owner of a company with more than 200 acres of land within the state of Tennessee. He allegedly collected more than $2 million over the course of the scheme, though he did not own the land he claimed. Several of the investments occurred through bank transfers, which brought them under the classification of a wire, as defined by federal law. Upon completion of the government’s investigation, the suspect was charged with wire fraud.
What is Wire Fraud
Federal wire fraud occurs when a person misuses interstate wire channels to fraudulently collect money. Examples of a wire reportedly include computer modems, radios, telephones and televisions. In order to successfully obtain a conviction, the prosecution must prove that the defendant purposely and voluntarily misrepresented actual facts with the intention of defrauding someone away from their money or other assets of value.
Wire fraud can occur in a variety of ways, including:
- Phishing – This occurs when scammers contact individuals and present themselves as legitimate websites/emails to gain data about the individual’s personal life and finances;
- Malware – Malicious software is downloaded onto an individual’s computer without their knowledge in order to obtain personal information or disrupt the computer;
- Illegal access of email accounts – Hackers use computers to gain access to an individual’s email account for the purpose of accessing personal and financial information; and
- Vishing/smishing – This occurs when scammers contact financial institution customers claiming to represent the institution. They falsely alert the customers that there has been a security breach and trick them into providing information that enables access to bank accounts.
Potential penalties for a federal wire fraud conviction include:
- Up to 20 years imprisonment in a federal prison; and
- Fine up to $250,000 or twice the loss caused by the offense.
For cases where the victim is a financial institution, the potential punishment is:
- Up to 30 years imprisonment in a federal prison; and
- Fine up to $1 million.
Federal officers generally report a significant increase in these charges and convictions over the last five years. This trend is partly due to the substantial rise in internet business transactions. According to reports, 73% of online businesses have experienced some type of financial loss caused by wire fraud. Even once the breach was discovered, many of these companies still suffered great economical losses.
If you or a loved one is facing wire fraud charges, Attorneys Mycki Ratzan and Jude Faccidomo can provide you with an aggressive and comprehensive defense. Contact Ratzan & Faccidomo, LLC today at (305) 330-3905 for a confidential and free consultation.