In 2022, an Arkansas court sentenced a man to over seven years in prison, three years of supervised release and a hefty fine. This individual used forged IDs and stolen social security numbers to perform illegal activities, including fraudulent wire transfers.
Specifically, this man committed wire fraud. This is a serious crime that carries stiff penalties, including up to 20 years of prison time, up to five years of supervised release and up to $250,000 punitive damages.
What constitutes wire fraud?
Any fraud that involves the use of wire communications (phone call, email, fax, wire, radio, television, etc.) and a lie or omission that results (or that the accused intended to result in) in the loss of money, services or property. The individual must have had the intention of committing fraud. Examples of wire fraud include text scams and phishing emails.
What are potential defenses against wire fraud?
One major potential defense is ignorance. Wire fraud, by definition, must include intent, so individuals who can prove they had no such intent did not commit it. An example would be if a person made claims believing them or simply exaggerated them as part of the sales process. Lack of evidence to prove intent may also count as a defense. There is also a five-year statute of limitations, after which courts cannot prosecute individuals for wire fraud.
Arkansas takes wire fraud seriously and imposes stiff penalties for it. However, the need to prove that there was an intent to commit fraud is both a hurdle for prosecutors and a potential avenue of defense for the defendant.