Dallas Wire Fraud Lawyers
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Do you believe that you are being investigated for wire fraud? Have you been arrested or charged with a criminal offense related to wire fraud? The Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC can help. Our Dallas wire fraud defense attorneys have over 30 years of legal experience, including experience in federal prosecution. We know how to help you navigate these charges and can develop a personalized legal strategy designed to protect your rights.
Wire fraud is a serious offense in Texas and throughout the United States. If you are facing charges, it is crucial that you reach out to our team as soon as possible so we can start building your defense.
Call (214) 238-9392 to request a confidential case evaluation with our team. Se habla español.
What is Wire Fraud?
Wire fraud refers to the use of electronic communications, like phone calls or emails, to deceive someone to gain something of value. It's a federal crime in the United States and is governed by statutes that prohibit the use of interstate wires, such as phone lines or the internet, to carry out fraudulent schemes.
Some examples of wire fraud include:
- Phishing Scams: Sending deceptive emails pretending to be from a legitimate entity, like a bank or a government agency, in order to acquire sensitive information such as passwords or credit card numbers.
- Business Email Compromise (BEC): Impersonating a company executive or partner via email to trick employees into transferring funds or sensitive data to the fraudster.
- False Investment Schemes: Promising high returns on investments through fraudulent or nonexistent ventures, convincing individuals to transfer money electronically.
- Lottery Scams: Notifying individuals they've won a lottery or prize and requesting wire transfers or payments to claim the non-existent winnings.
- Fake Charity Appeals: Pretending to represent a charitable organization and soliciting donations through electronic means for a cause that doesn’t exist.
- Identity Theft: Illegally obtaining personal information, like Social Security numbers or banking details, and using it to conduct fraudulent wire transfers or financial transactions.
- Fake Invoices or Billing Schemes: Sending false invoices or altering payment details in communications to redirect payments to fraudulent accounts.
Elements of Wire Fraud
Generally speaking, wire fraud refers to any form of fraud that occurs via electronic means/communications, including phones, computers, email, the Internet, radio, and television.
In order to prove wire fraud, the prosecution must show beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- The defendant either created or was a participant in a plan to defraud another person, company, or entity (typically, though not always, for monetary gain);
- the defendant intended to commit fraud;
- the use of “wire communications” to defraud was reasonably foreseeable; and
- wire communications were used to carry out the fraud.
Defense Against Wire Fraud
A wire fraud conviction can carry severe consequences. That said, every case is unique, and various defenses might be applicable depending on the specifics of your particular situation.
Some potential defenses for wire fraud include:
- Lack of Intent to Defraud: The prosecution has to prove that the accused had a specific intent to defraud. If the defendant can show that their actions were not intended to deceive or cheat someone out of money or property, they could avoid a potential conviction.
- Good Faith Belief: If the defendant genuinely believed in the truth of the statements they made, even if they were false, it might be possible to argue that there was no intent to defraud. This is commonly referred to as the “good faith” defense.
- Entrapment: In some cases, the defense of entrapment might apply. Entrapment occurs when law enforcement induces a person to commit a crime they would not have otherwise committed. If the defendant can prove that they only committed the alleged wire fraud because of undue pressure or manipulation by law enforcement, it could serve as a valid defense.
- Insufficient Evidence: The burden of proof lies with the prosecution. If they cannot provide sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed all elements of wire fraud, the case could end with a not-guilty verdict or be dismissed altogether.
- Mistake of Fact: If the defendant was under a mistaken belief that led them to commit an act that constitutes wire fraud, they might be able to use the mistake of fact defense. However, this would depend on whether the mistake was reasonable under their [MP1] case’s circumstances.
- Statute of Limitations: Wire fraud charges must be brought within a specific timeframe. If the government fails to indict within the statute of limitations, it may be possible to have the charges dismissed. The statute of limitations for wire fraud cases is five years. If the fraud is against a financial institution, it increases to ten years.
What Are the Penalties of Wire Fraud?
Like other fraud charges, the penalties for wire fraud can be severe. Under U.S. federal law (18 U.S.C. § 1343), those guilty of wire fraud can face up to 20 years in prison and substantial fines of up to $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for organizations.
The penalties become even more severe if the wire fraud affects a financial institution or is connected to a presidentially declared disaster or emergency. In such scenarios, the maximum prison sentence increases to 30 years, and the fine can escalate to up to $1,000,000.
These penalties are often levied “per count” of wire fraud. This means that if a person or organization is charged with multiple counts, each is treated as a separate offense carrying its own penalties. For example, if an individual is found guilty of three counts of wire fraud, they can face up to 60 years in prison and fines totaling up to $750,000.
The severity of the penalties often depends on factors such as the amount of money involved, the extent of the fraud, the presence of any prior criminal history, and whether the fraud caused significant harm to individuals or organizations.
Additionally, other related charges, such as conspiracy or money laundering, could be added, further increasing the potential penalties. Consulting with a qualified attorney when facing or potentially facing charges of wire fraud is crucial to understanding the specific legal implications and potential outcomes.
Contact Our Firm for a Confidential Consultation
Discussing your situation with an experienced Dallas wire fraud attorney can be crucial to building a compelling case. At the Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC, we can help you fully understand your charges and take legal action to protect your future and your freedom. We have successfully handled thousands of cases and are prepared to fight aggressively on your behalf.
Call (214) 238-9392 or contact us online to find out how we can help you.
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