Wire fraud is very broadly defined as the use of telephone or electronic communications (involving computers, the Internet, fax machines, television, and the like) in an effort to defraud another individual or entity. More specifically, in 18 U.S. Code 1343, a person that has committed wire fraud is defined as "whoever, having 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."

Typically, wire fraud schemes involve convincing stories or reproduction of an ordinary request from a (realistically) reliable company in order to convince the reader to share personal information. One particular type of wire fraud called "phishing" involves the mass distribution of unsolicited emails, again involving a convincing story, that encourages the reader to share personal information. One personal information is shared, the schemer can use credit cards or transfer money from personal bank accounts. This crime is typically investigated under federal law, though there are state laws regarding the crime and a federal wire fraud case may carry state charges in addition to federal charges.


If you are found guilty of wire fraud, you could find yourself facing:

  • fines up to $250,000 for individuals
  • fines up to $500,000 for organizations
  • up to 20 years in prison

If the wire fraud committed is in relation to a presidentially-declared major disaster or if it involves a financial institution, you could then face 30 years in prison and a fine of $1,000,000.

All penalties for this crime are per count, which means that each phone call, email, or other form of electronic communication can be considered a separate count. With only two counts, you could be facing $500,000 in fines and 40 years in prison.


Are you facing serious wire fraud charges? Kevin Stockstill has over 20 years of experience representing and defending clients charged with wire fraud and can help you protect your freedom. Call today to schedule your initial consultation.