Wire Fraud

Like the mail fraud statute, the law against wire fraud prohibits any scheme or artifice to defraud that uses wire, radio, or television communication in interstate commerce.

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What is Wire Fraud?

Wire fraud is a criminal offense under federal law. It involves any scheme to defraud another person that uses electronic communications, either across state lines or internationally.

The Elements of Federal Wire Fraud

The elements of wire fraud are the same as mail fraud. In order to convict the defendant, federal prosecutors have to prove all of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:


  1. A scheme to defraud or obtain money or property by fraudulent pretenses;
  2. Intent;
  3. The making of materially false representations; and
  4. Transmission by wire, radio, or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce.

The United States Attorney is not required to establish that the wire, radio, or television transmission was critical to the scheme. Rather, the transmission element is more like a jurisdictional element. The transmission in interstate commerce is what gives federal court jurisdiction over the scheme. Without the transmission, the scheme would be prosecutable in state court.



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