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Communications and Wire Fraud

Wire fraud and communications fraud is typically described as the deceitful use of any of media to illegally obtain money, property or personal information, or to harm or damage another person. Wire fraud or communications fraud charges may include:

These fraud cases often overlap with other crimes including:

Wire fraud is a federal offense with steep penalties. If you think you have committed any type of fraud, you may want to protect your criminal rights by speaking with a criminal defense lawyer. For a free case evaluation, simply fill out the free case evaluation form on this page or call 877-445-1059.

Internet Fraud

The growth of the Internet has spawned new ways to gain access to money and personal information. There is so much information online, and so many ways to hide one’s identity, that the Internet is a ripe breeding ground for fraud. Some common avenues for Internet fraud include:

  • Solicitations on message boards and forums
  • Web sites for fake businesses or charities
  • Deceptive or false advertising
  • Email offers and scams
  • Unauthorized use of personal information to set up accounts
  • Hacking to obtain personal information, including log-ins and passwords, without permission 

You or your Web site may collect personal information for legitimate reasons. You might need a credit card number or address to complete a legit business transaction. But if you sell, distribute or use this information for other, unapproved purposes you could be committing fraud.

Or, if your business, or the ads for that business, promise delivery of goods – say merchandise sold or free gifts for filling out a survey – and fail to deliver, you could be committing fraud.

Using someone’s information to apply for a credit card – or making online purchases with another’s card – is fraud. You could be committing securities fraud if you visit financial forums to “pump up” stock you own with the intention of dumping it later.

Similarly, although many Web sites encourage users to create avatars and online personas, taking this too far can result in illegal activity. Claiming to be someone you are not in attempts to gain money or property is against the law. Some courts are even punishing people for abuses that occurred on Facebook and Myspace, when these individuals logged on to someone else’s account and pretended to be that person.

Email Fraud

Anyone with an email account is probably familiar with email fraud. The many solicitations offering dating services, prescription drugs and the chance to help a rich African king are commonly known as spam. These “phishing” messages are also types of fraud.

Email fraud may occur via deceptive offers advertised with legitimate email addresses or through email address cloning. In the case of cloning, the email address of a friend or contact may send you a message advertising a scam, without the user’s knowledge. Here, two types of fraud occur: The unauthorized use of an email address and the message.

One popular type of email fraud involves the phisher posing as foreign royalty or a successful businessman and asking for bank account information so their massive wealth can be freed from their home country. Of course, in this case there is no massive wealth. This is a type of bank fraud, wherein the perpetrators are trying to gain access to someone else’s bank account.

Mail Fraud

Although the Internet may have passed the printed page in many areas, acts of fraud can still be committed through the mail. Mail fraud may be any deceptive solicitation sent through the U.S. mail. This might include solicitations from a non-existent charity or a catalog from a fake business.

Mail may also be used to perpetrate identity theft and credit card fraud. If someone obtains personal information without your permission, either by stealing your mail or your garbage, and uses or sells this information, then that person is committing or facilitating fraud.

Telecommunications Fraud

Like Internet and mail fraud, telecommunications fraud is defined by the media used to conduct the unlawful activities. This may include telemarketing fraud: Solicitations for money or information from false charities, businesses or survey conductors.

Cell phones have opened up a world of fraud where people are registering for service under fake names, acquiring the service and then avoiding payments. Telecommunications fraud may also involve any unauthorized use of phone, television, radio or Internet signals or wires.

Wire Fraud Punishments

The punishment for wire fraud depends on state laws and the nature of the charges. Depending up on the circumstances, you could be charged with violating multiple anti-fraud statutes. A fraud conviction might carry upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and up to 20 years in jail. You would also be responsible to pay back any lost money or damages to property. If your fraud case involves a bank or government institution, the penalties may be steeper – up to $1 million and 30 years in jail.

Because of the severe penalties, and the multiple laws that may be involved, many people seek the help of a criminal defense lawyer if they are charged with or suspected of committing any type of wire fraud.

Facing Criminal Fraud Charges? Speak With a Lawyer Today!

If you have been charged with wire fraud or any form of communications fraud, or think you may have committed fraud, you may want to speak with a criminal defense lawyer right away. A criminal defense lawyer may offer advice, answer questions and help protect your rights. To speak with a lawyer near you, simply fill out the free case evaluation form, or call, toll free, 877-445-1059.

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The above summary of communications and wire fraud is by no means all-inclusive and is not legal advice. Laws may have changed since our last update. For the latest information on communications and wire fraud laws and penalties, speak to a criminal defense attorney in your area.


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