What is Wire Fraud, and What is the Statute of Limitations for Wire Fraud?

wire fraud statute of limitations

Wire fraud is a serious offense with long-lasting consequences for businesses and individuals. Understanding the legal ramifications of wire fraud is crucial for anyone suspected of committing the crime. This article will discuss wire fraud and the applicable statute of limitations.

What Is the Wire Fraud Statute of Limitations?

A statute of limitations is a law that establishes the maximum amount of time that a party has to initiate legal proceedings from the date of an alleged civil or criminal offense. 

Wire fraud is the dishonest use of electronic transmission to defraud a victim. This includes via the telephone, internet, or radio. Often, wire fraud involves the use of wire communications for the purpose of convincing a person to send money under pretenses.

Wire Fraud Statute of Limitations Variation

Wire fraud charges have become increasingly prevalent as more people rely on the internet to find investment opportunities or market financial products. A wire fraud charge usually includes accusations of deliberate deception with the intent of unlawful gain that occurs via some form of telecommunication.

The statute of limitations for wire fraud varies based on the involvement of a financial institution. Usually, the statute of limitations for wire fraud is five years. In financial institution fraud cases, the statute of limitations is extended to 10 years.

Types Wire Fraud

Typical wire fraud-related cons to watch out for include:

  • Advance-fee scams: The perpetrator uses email to defraud an unsuspecting victim. They offer to pay handsomely for a favor so long as the victim first wires them an advance fee.
  • Phishing: The perpetrator of phishing sends emails to entice the recipient into divulging sensitive information. For instance, an email notifies the recipient that their account password has expired, and they must reset it via a website that resembles the recipient’s bank website, allowing the scammer to steal the passwords to the legitimate site.
  • Hiring fraud: These typically target job seekers, with fraudsters offering them lucrative positions. In addition to requesting application processing fees, the criminals may also steal sensitive information such as Social Security numbers and birthdays.

Penalties for the Offense

The penalties for wire fraud depend on the nature of the offense. Individuals who commit wire fraud face a maximum of twenty years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalties in cases involving financial institutions are 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

Proof of Guilt

The prosecution needs to prove that the defendant intended to defraud someone of property or money. Essential elements of the case include the defendant’s participation in a fraud scheme and sending false information to the victim through the wires either in interstate commerce or internationally.

Even if the defendant insists that they did not know the wire communication’s fraudulent use, prosecutors may still have a case if they can prove that the defendant sent a wire transmission that it was reasonable to assume was for fraudulent use.

Defense Strategies

Lack of intent or authority is a possible defense strategy for a wire fraud charge. If a defendant has evidence to support their claim that they did not intend to defraud anyone, they may be able to avoid a conviction.

In some instances, a defense strategy may consist of a lack of authority. For example, if employees send supervisor-requested emails containing fraudulent content without realizing it, they should have a strong defense.

Getting Started

Wire fraud is a serious federal offense; you could face significant penalties if convicted. If you have been charged with committing wire fraud, you need to retain an attorney as soon as possible. The SH-Law team has an in-depth understanding of wire fraud charges. Our combined legal proficiency, sharp and imaginative insight, and unrelenting efforts produce results that consistently surpass our client’s expectations.  Get in touch with us today for more information.

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Scarinci Hollenbeck, LLC defends individuals and companies in all types of litigation. Our team has decades of experience in all types of litigation, white collar defense, securities litigation, and financial services enforcement proceedings.