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How does wire fraud happen?

On Behalf of | Nov 9, 2022 | Fraud

Fraud is the deliberate intent to unlawfully deceive a victim while gaining something or denying the victim their basic rights. Some of the more common forms of fraud include tax fraud, security fraud, disability fraud and bankruptcy fraud. These fraudulent activities may be conducted by one person or a group of people.

Wire fraud is another form of illegal activity that takes advantage of technology. Most forms of wire fraud are done over the phone, but many modern forms of fraud are conducted by text, email or social media messaging. Wire fraud targets people willing to pay out large sums of money often with the expectation of helping someone in need or receiving something in return – but these promises likely never come to fruition.

There’s more you should know:

4 elements of wire fraud

Wire fraud is a federal crime, but to determine if someone is taking illegal actions, the court will have to decide if a suspected criminal’s actions were taken against the law. There are four elements of wire fraud:

  • The suspected criminal voluntarily plotted to deceive a victim out of money.
  • The suspected criminal enacted their plan to deceive a victim.
  • The plan was to use wire communications to transfer the victim’s money.
  • Wire communications were used to transfer money.

If all of these are true in a wire fraud case, then the criminal would likely be incriminated and receive hefty fines. However, even if money was not taken from a victim in a wire fraud case, the criminal may still face penalties with the intent of knowingly deceiving someone.

2 examples of wire fraud

A common example of wire fraud is an email saying the receiver is a distant relative of someone who recently passed away with a large sum of money. The receiver of the email would gain access to their inheritance after sending a small sum of money. After the receiver sends the money, they would, theoretically, earn a portion of the inheritance, but never sees a penny.

Another example of wire fraud is a winning sweepstakes check. The receiver didn’t enter into any sweepstakes despite the letter clearly stating they would receive their prize after sending back personal financial information. The receiver would then pay a processing fee but would lose their money from the scam.

If you’re arrested or being investigated under the suspicion of a fraudulent crime, then you may need to know your legal options.