Title 18 of the United States Code, the part of federal law the deals with most criminal matters, is long. In its pages, you are likely to find criminal offenses ranging from embezzlement to murder. One offense, wire fraud, may be easier to commit than you realize.
Wire fraud is a serious criminal offense that involves using an interstate communications device to defraud someone of something valuable. An interstate communications device is any device that crosses state lines, such as a telephone. Luckily, it is not possible to commit wire fraud accidentally.
Intent is an element
To secure a conviction for wire fraud or any other criminal offense, U.S. attorneys must prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. When it comes to wire fraud, intent is an element of the crime. Put simply, if you did not intend to deprive someone of their property or something else of value, you probably are not guilty of wire fraud.
Loss is not necessary
While you must intend to deprive someone of something to commit wire fraud, you do not have to be successful. The federal wire fraud statute outlaws schemes to defraud. Consequently, if you have a plan to use an interstate communications device to take something that is not yours, you may meet the elements of the crime, regardless of whether your scheme works.
If a member of law enforcement has questioned you about wire fraud, you should assume he or she is building a case against you. Ultimately, prosecutors may use many different forms of evidence to prove you did not accidentally commit wire fraud.