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An overview of federal wire fraud charges

First coined in 1939, the term white collar crime is now used to describe a wide range of fraudulent or otherwise financially motivated and non-violent offenses. This includes wire fraud. While the state of Arkansas does not have a specific law prohibiting this type of scheme, it is considered a crime under federal law.

Wire fraud involves plans or actions aimed at defrauding others using electronic communications. This includes communications via wire, internet, computer, radio or television. For example, sending an email to someone telling them they are from another country and need a safe place to deposit a large sum of money. In exchange for the email recipient’s banking information, the sender promises to pay him or her but instead uses the information to access the person’s account himself or herself.

According to federal law, there are four elements of wire fraud offenses. These include the voluntary planning or involvement in a scheme aimed at defrauding another person or persons, acting knowingly or with the purpose of committing fraud, the reasonable expectation that wire communications would be used in furtherance of the scheme, and the actual use of interstate wire communications.

According to FindLaw, if convicted of this type of white collar crime, people may be sentenced to prison, fines or both. The prison sentence for federal wire fraud is not to exceed 20 years for each count, except under certain circumstances such as when the fraud involves a financial institution or a major disaster. In those cases, people may be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison for each count. Individuals convicted of wire fraud may be fined up to $250,000 per count while organizations involved in these types of schemes may be fined a maximum of $500,000 per count. People may be charged with one count of wire fraud for every electronic communication they made in furtherance of their scheme; meaning they may face penalties for each email, phone call or other communication.

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