What Must the Prosecution Show to Prove Wire Fraud in Nevada?
Wire fraud is more common than many may realize – and an expensive one. Wire fraud is a multi-billion dollar crime that robs millions of people of their hard-earned money every year. And it is increasing.
In 2022, wire fraud protection company, CertifID, released its State of Wire Fraud report that revealed a staggering 340,000 suspicious wire transactions resulting in $1.4 billion in suspected fraud. It also showed that in 2022:
- 145% YoY increase in wire fraud reported to CertifID
- 83% of the company’s customers experienced one or more instances of suspected fraud
- $158,000 per reported wire fraud is the average that the company recovered
These increases in frequency, coupled with the average costs, have put wire fraud on the radar of prosecutors and federal investigators as they lead the charge to fight the crime.
That means if you get arrested for wire fraud you could find yourself being made an example of by a prosecutor who is intent on throwing the book at you.
What falls under wire fraud?
There are a number of activities that fall under wire fraud, but they all involve the use of the internet or some form of telecommunications. This includes:
- Cell phone
- Text messaging
- Fax machine
- SMS messaging
- Social media
- Instant messaging or chat apps
Often the schemes are very subtle and believable. Unsuspecting people will fall into the snare and end up losing thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, sometimes legitimate businesses and opportunities are mistaken for wire fraud and this can cause serious problems for the people who are involved because it can lead to false accusations.
The penalties for wire fraud carry a maximum of 20 years in prison, fines, and restitution. However, if the alleged scheme defrauded a bank, the maximum sentence is 30 years.
What are the elements to prove wire fraud?
941. 18 U.S.C. 1343—ELEMENTS OF WIRE FRAUD is the federal law that defines wire fraud. It lists four essential elements of the crime:
- The defendant intentionally and voluntarily participated in or devised a scheme that was created for the purpose of defrauding another person, bank, or business out of money,
- The defendant intentionally and voluntarily participated in or devised the scheme with the intent to defraud,
- It was reasonably foreseeable that the scheme would involve the use of interstate wire communications, and
- In the commission of the scheme interstate wire communications were used
This forms the foundation for how wire fraud is prosecuted.
How is wire fraud prosecuted?
In Nevada, the United States Attorney’s Office prosecuted wire fraud as a federal crime. This is because it most often crosses state lines and even national boundaries. At the trial, the prosecution must prove three elements in order to get a conviction:
- There was a scheme to defraud that employed false pretenses,
- The defendant was a willful and knowing participant in the scheme and had the intent to defraud
- The scheme involved the use of interstate wire communications in order to further the scheme
If the prosecutor can prove these elements beyond a shadow of a doubt, they can convict the defendant of the crime. That is why it is so important to have a federal criminal defense attorney representing you in your case. They understand the law and know how to navigate the legal system.
How is wire fraud investigated?
Often a wire fraud investigation will begin with local or state law enforcement but eventually, federal agencies like the FBI and U.S. Department of Homeland Security will get involved. These agencies have many resources that can aid in investigating and detecting wire fraud.
There are task forces under various agencies that are designed to investigate and build cases against individuals who are suspected of being involved in a wire fraud crime.
Sometimes a wire fraud case comes out of the investigation of another crime. These may include:
- Mortgage fraud
- Identity theft
- Tax fraud
- Elder fraud
- Money laundering
- Insurance fraud
- Bank fraud
Most people have encountered a wire fraud scheme or have even fallen prey to one. They are much more common than you might think. The problem is, they can also look a lot like legitimate opportunities and that can get many innocent people in a lot of trouble.
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