According to the U.S. Department of Justice, wire fraud is one of the most prevalent forms of this crime. Fraud is the deliberate deceit of others to get one’s hands on unlawful gains. These ill-gotten gains often take the form of cash, but any financial gain constitutes fraud.
Explaining the basic concepts behind wire fraud
In simple terms, the only differentiating characteristic of wire fraud is that it must involve interstate wire communication. Here, “wire” can refer to emails, instant messages, social media messages, faxes or telephone calls. Internet and telecommunication systems use sprawling networks of wires to share information, which is what the term “wire” refers to.
A real-world example of wire fraud
In late December 2020, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced that a New York resident pleaded guilty to wire fraud. The 53-year-old man, who had long worked as a comptroller for Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, a popular bimonthly financial journal, had embezzled assets from his employer for at least five years.
The man ultimately took $1.3 million from the well-trusted financial publisher. As a comptroller, a high-level managerial accounting position that handles the quality of financial reports and general ledgers, he used company money to:
- Write company checks to cash, which he then deposited in his bank accounts
- Buy valuable metals, which he later sold and kept the proceeds from
- Overpay his credit card bills to receive refunds from his credit card companies
Wire fraud is a serious financial crime. It can carry up to 20 years in federal prison. Defendants accused of wire fraud or other white-collar crimes should always have attorneys defend them in court.