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What is wire fraud?

On Behalf of | Mar 27, 2023 | White Collar Crimes

When dealing with matters of fraud, the terms “wire fraud” and “mail fraud” often come up. These are two of the most common types of fraud schemes, after all.

But what is wire fraud in particular? How does it differ from mail fraud and what are the penalties associated with it?

Wire fraud vs. mail fraud

The Department of Justice discusses wire fraud as a crime. Wire fraud and mail fraud essentially serve the same purpose: to utilize a means of communication in order to defraud an individual. Defrauding someone is the intentional separation of that person from their assets or their access to honest services.

The main difference comes into play with how the fraud actually happens. Mail fraud involves use of the United States Postal Services. It can include everything from letters to parcels, but it always involves something shipped physically.

On the other hand, wire fraud involves wire and electronic communications for the furtherance of fraud schemes. This can include phone calls, text messages, emails, comments on message boards and much more.

The reach of wire fraud has increased exponentially in recent years and outpaces mail fraud by a fair degree now.

Penalties for wire fraud

The penalties for wire fraud are relatively high. A person convicted of wire fraud can face up to 30 years in prison and a potential $1 million in fines at the most severe and extreme of results. More typically, a person will face up to 20 years in jail and up to $500,000 in fines, which is still a hefty penalty.


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