Understanding wire fraud

Earlier this year, a 28-year-old Little Rock resident was convicted of six counts of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. He was sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay around $225,000 in restitution. In light of this case, it seems like a good time to examine this type of crime.

Wire fraud is a type of scam that takes place using telecommunications or information technology. It is a scheme to gain money or property though the use of intentionally deceptive tactics. Often, the perpetrator's aim is to obtain access to the victim's bank account or credit card number. Below are two common types of wire fraud:

Phone scam

A person claiming to represent a legitimate organization calls and tries to get the victim to release their personal information. The caller may employ fear tactics, such as claiming that the victim's computer security has been compromised, and pressuring the victim to grant the caller access to their device in order to resolve the issue. A fraudulent caller may also make false claims that the victim has won a monetary prize, and in order to collect their winnings, they must give the caller their personal information.

Phishing scam

A fraudulent email that appears to be sent from a legitimate source (a bank, government agency or other reputable organization) is known as a phishing email. Such an email makes a claim designed to grab your attention. It then prompts you to click on a link to a third-party website that is intended to resemble the website of the legitimate organization the perpetrator is claiming to represent. Once on the fraudulent website, the user is prompted to enter their private information, which the scammer can use for their personal gain.

While cases of wire fraud are increasingly common, understanding the warning signs are an important first step to protecting yourself. Never click on any links in emails from senders you don't recognize, and never give out your personal information to anyone whose identity you haven't verified.

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