Wire Fraud Attorney
Wire fraud allegations are common in many different types of investigations of federal criminal offenses. Our wire fraud attorneys have extensive experience helping clients avoid the substantial penalties imposed under the federal wire fraud statute.
The federal wire fraud statute is extraordinarily broad. First codified in 1952 and originally intended to facilitate the prosecution of cases involving fraudulent schemes perpetrated through cold calls and radio and television ads, federal prosecutors now use the statute to pursue additional, harsh penalties in charges involving use of the Internet in any fashion. While this includes activities such as sending fraudulent email solicitations and publishing websites and social media posts with false or misleading information, it also includes using private electronic means and wire communications to discuss alleged fraudulent activity.
Due to the federal wire fraud statute’s extraordinary breadth, it can potentially be applied in almost any case of federal offense involving substantive allegations of committing wire fraud. In fact, the statute’s application is so broad that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued guidance to federal prosecutors for when the statute should be utilized. As stated in Section 9-43.100 of the DOJ’s Justice Manual (which is entitled, “Prosecution Policy Relating to Mail Fraud and Wire Fraud”):
“Prosecutions of [wire] fraud ordinarily should not be undertaken if the scheme employed consists of some isolated transactions between individuals, involving minor loss to the victims, in which case the parties should be left to settle their differences by civil or criminal litigation in the state courts. Serious consideration, however, should be given to the prosecution of any scheme which in its nature is directed to defrauding a class of persons, or the general public, with a substantial pattern of conduct.”
However, even this policy statement leaves a huge number of charges and cases ripe for federal wire fraud prosecution. Allegations or charges of white collar federal crimes such as healthcare fraud (including Medicare and Medicaid fraud), securities fraud, government contract fraud, mail fraud, tax fraud, bank fraud and insurance fraud, RICO violations, money laundering, and consumer fraud schemes can all trigger federal wire fraud charges from a federal prosecutor. In these wire fraud cases, allegations of mail fraud through the postal service and conspiracy are common as well, and these charges of mail and wire fraud alone can expose federal targets to hefty fines of hundreds or millions of dollars in criminal fines and decades of prison time.
Why have thousands of clients chosen Oberheiden P.C.?
- Only Sr. Attorneys– We don’t employ paralegals, Jr. Attorneys, or Secretaries. You will work directly with a Sr. Attorney who will keep you apprised on a regular basis regarding the details of your case.
- We Know The Government’s Playbook– Many of our attorneys previously worked for the government as federal prosecutors. Understanding the tricks, goals, and strategies of the opposing side gives us an advantage as we prepare our defense.
- We Have Secret Weapons– Our team of Former FBI, IRS, DEA, OIG, and Secret Service agents will use their experience in espionage, business investigations, and cyber forensics to find the nuanced details that can sometimes be the difference between a win or jail time.
- Unrivaled Results– While we have many tools at our disposal, our greatest asset is our notable experience fighting the government. This experience has given us the privilege of winning over 2,000 cases on behalf of our clients.
I encourage you to compare our experience, results, and team with any local or national firm.
When you’ve been defending clients for as long as we have, there’s no trick we haven’t seen, likely no tactics we haven’t countered and no strategy we haven’t circumvented many times before.
If your reputation, livelihood, freedom, or career is at stake, call us today for a free consultation.
We will help you clearly understand what your options are and the best path forward.
Call now to confidentially discuss the details of your case: 888-680-1745
Dr. Nick Oberheiden
What Types of Communications and Activities Constitute Wire Fraud?
The federal crime of wire fraud is defined in 18 U.S.C. § 1343. Under this statute, federal prosecutors can pursue charges and additional penalties against anyone who:
“[H]aving devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, transmits or causes to be transmitted by means of wire, radio, or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce, any writings, signs, signals, pictures, or sounds for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice . . . .”
In 18 U.S.C. § 1343, the word “wire” encompasses use of the phone or the Internet, and the incorporation of, “any writings, signs, signals, pictures, [and] sounds,” has been interpreted to cover essentially all forms of telephonic, cellular, digital, and online or electronic communication. Furthermore, as acknowledged by the DOJ, the terms “scheme” and “artifice” have not been specifically defined, but instead are interpreted broadly to include acts such as the use of false pretenses, embezzlement, and other forms of “wrongdoing” that result in the deprivation of private or government property.
In other words, within the context of a federal fraud investigation, virtually any type of “wire” communication can trigger charges under the legal application of 18 U.S.C. § 1343.
What are the communications and transactions that trigger charges under the application of 18 U.S.C. § 1343?
- Phone calls, text messages, emails, electronic communication and other communications between alleged co-conspirators;
- Fraudulent communications used to collect personal or financial information;
- Spam, telemarketing, and phishing emails, phone calls, and text messages;
- Fraudulent and falsified invoices;
- Fraudulent billings under federal government benefit programs and federal government contracts;
- Websites, social media posts, and other media that misrepresent the nature or quality of products, services, or securities;
- A fraudulent scheme like online sales, auctions, and other transactions, the terms of which are not fulfilled; and,
- Fraudulent lotteries and sweepstakes promotions conducted by phone or over the Internet.
Any of these circumstances could be considered mail fraud if the mail was used during these transactions. When federal prosecutors pursue criminal law charges under 18 U.S.C. § 1343, then in addition to the penalties for the underlying substantive fraud offense, in wire fraud cases defendants can also face statutory fines and up to 20 years of imprisonment (increased to 30 years if committed against a financial institution) in federal prison based solely on the wire fraud statute.
What are Potential Defenses to Allegations of Federal Wire Fraud That My Wire Fraud Attorney May Use?
Given the scope of the wire fraud statute’s prohibitions and the extremely wide range of scenarios under which this criminal law can be applied, a strong defense against wire fraud allegations presents a challenge, so having a wire fraud attorney as your criminal defense lawyer is essential. However, there are common defenses that can be used by your wire fraud lawyer effectively to overcome allegations or charges under 18 U.S.C. § 1343, and our wire fraud defense lawyers have had significant success asserting these defenses on behalf of many of our clients. Some common examples of potential defenses your wire fraud lawyer may use for allegations or charges of federal mail and wire fraud include:
- Constructive Fraud – Since 18 U.S.C. § 1343 requires evidence that the defendant either devised or intended to devise a scheme to defraud, demonstrating that you did not intentionally engage in fraudulent activity (which is referred to as “constructive fraud”) can be a complete defense to federal wire fraud allegations.
- Good Faith (Lack of Intent) – Similar to constructive fraud, the good-faith defense focuses on challenging the government’s evidence and inserts reasonable doubt that you intended to commit fraud or engage in a fraudulent artifice or scheme.
- Lack of Authority – If an employee engaged in fraudulent conduct without company authorization, this can provide a complete defense to wire fraud at the corporate, executive, and ownership levels.
- Lack of Purpose – The federal wire fraud statute requires evidence that the communications in question were sent, “for the purpose” of perpetrating a fraudulent artifice or scheme. If you lacked this purpose (or if federal prosecutors cannot prove this purpose), then a wire fraud conviction is unwarranted.
- Statute of Limitations – If the statute of limitations for prosecuting federal wire fraud charges based on the underlying fraud allegations has expired, then you cannot be prosecuted
Learn more about each of these potential defenses:Defense Strategies for Wire Fraud Allegations Under 18 U.S.C. Section 1343.
These wire fraud defense examples, which are all specific to the language and interpretation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343, are in addition to the common law and constitutional defenses that apply to federal criminal investigations and prosecutions generally. From challenging the constitutionality of the search that uncovered the communications in question to arguing that prosecutors have not brought your wire fraud case to the court in a timely manner, there are many other ways a wire fraud lawyer can challenge federal wire fraud allegations as well.
In What Types of Cases Do Federal Prosecutors Pursue Wire Fraud Charges?
Wire fraud charges are common in many different types of federal crimes cases. Our wire fraud lawyers have significant experience defending clients against wire fraud allegations in investigations, grand jury proceedings, and trials targeting substantive offenses such as:
Healthcare providers, telemedicine companies, testing laboratories, durable medical equipment (DME) suppliers, and other individuals and entities that bill Medicare, Medicaid, and other government benefit programs will often face wire fraud allegations in conjunction with allegations under the False Claims Act, Anti-Kickback Statute, and healthcare fraud statute.
Government Contract Fraud
Construction, military, and other government contractors are subject to extensive federal oversight. When allegations of product substitution, billing fraud, and other contract violations trigger federal investigations for government contract fraud, contractors will often also be at risk for fines and imprisonment under 18 U.S.C. § 1343.
Securities fraud allegations ranging from broker and financial advisor fraud to the filing of false and misleading statements with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) can also implicate 18 U.S.C. § 1343. The promotion and sale of unregistered securities, insider trading, cryptocurrency fraud, and other securities law violations can trigger wire fraud allegations as well.
Other Fraud-Based Crimes
Many different forms of fraud are criminalized at the federal level, and all types of fraud allegations have the potential to lead to charges for wire fraud. In addition to the types of cases listed above, a federal defense and white collar crime lawyer also handle cases involving allegations of:
Similar to wire fraud, money laundering is a broadly-defined federal crime that can be implicated under a wide range of scenarios. We routinely handle criminal defense cases in which our clients are facing allegations of money laundering, mail and wire fraud, and multiple other financial and fraud-related crimes.
Public Corruption and Bribery
Public corruption and bribery investigations carry severe implications for all parties involved. By their nature, they will almost universally implicate the federal wire fraud statute in addition to statutes such as 18 U.S.C. § 201, 18 U.S.C. § 371, and 18 U.S.C. § 641.
Contact the Wire Fraud Attorneys at Oberheiden, P.C. for a Free and Confidential Fraud Defense Consultation
Are you under investigation for federal wire fraud? If you need a wire fraud lawyer for federal criminal defense representation, we encourage you to contact us promptly to discuss your case. To speak with one of our senior wire fraud lawyers in confidence as soon as possible, call 888-680-1745 or request a complimentary case assessment online now.