If you live in Pennsylvania and are currently facing fraud charges relating to your use of email, phones, texts or another type of electronic communication, you may have valid concerns about the possible penalties you may face, if convicted. Wire fraud is a serious federal offense, and typically, authorities must prove several specific things in order to make a successful case against you.
First, they must be able to demonstrate that you had a clear intent to take money from someone or some organization through electronic means, and that you actively participated in some type of scheme you knew was unlawful. Next, they must demonstrate that you engaged in interstate wire communications in doing so, which typically means you did so through phone calls, emails or what have you.
Arguably the most well-known example of wire fraud involves a Nigerian prince who contacts others through email with some phony story about needing money following some type of tragedy or disaster. Not all wire fraud crimes are of this nature, however. Some wire fraud crimes are the result of someone sending emails that request personal or bank information from someone else without due cause, while others yet involve requests for credit card numbers or similar financial information.
An overview of federal wire fraud penalties
Many federal crimes bring with them harsh penalties. If a judge or court convicts you as an individual on federal wire fraud charges, you can anticipate having to pay fines of up to $250,000. If, conversely, your organization is guilty of committing wire fraud, you can anticipate having to pay fines of up to $500,000. In addition, regardless of whether you face wire fraud charges as an individual or organization, you can plan on having to spend up to 20 years behind bars.
In some limited cases, such as if a wire fraud scheme involves some sort of natural disaster, you may face even steeper penalties, if convicted. Additionally, please note that the penalties outlined above are per count, meaning they can compound if you are facing multiple counts.