If you are facing federal charges that include one or more counts of wire fraud, you likely have questions about what this means. Although a basic outline can give you some clarity, these charges usually mean a complicated case and potentially severe penalties. Therefore, it is important to get help from a qualified attorney who can advise you based on your particular situation.

Wire fraud charges mean that prosecutors allege you intentionally used interstate or international communications in the course of pursuing a scheme to defraud. Thus, these charges are often present as part of a white-collar prosecution. They can stand alone or in conjunction with other types of fraud charges.

Types of communications

Although the language of the statute refers to wire fraud, it covers all types of electronic communications, including wireless ones. Typically, phone calls, text messages, posts on the internet, emails and radio communications all fall into this category. There is usually little doubt as to whether these communications are interstate; even if you were communicating with someone in the same state, it can be enough that your message went through a server located elsewhere.

Scheme to defraud

Prosecutors must also prove that the communication was part of a scheme to defraud. This means you intended the communication to induce a person or a business to part with something of value based on a misrepresentation. Key elements of proving such a case include showing the defendant knew the representation was false, made it purposely and intended it to cause the victim to give up property. The crime of wire fraud can take place even if the scheme does not succeed in getting targets to give up property. 


Potential defenses include countering one or more of the major elements of the crime. For example, a defendant can argue that he or she did not knowingly commit fraud because he or she believed in good faith that the statements made were true. Another defense is that the defendant did not intend to get money from the victim. Finally, another common defense is that the alleged fraud was the normal type of exaggeration salespeople use, rather than a material misrepresentation.