Wire Fraud

18 U.S.C. § 1343 (2005).
Under section 1343, it is a crime for a person

  • who has devised or intends to devise a scheme or artifice to
    • defraud, or
    • to obtain money or property by means of false or fraudulent
      • pretenses
      • representations, or
      • promises
  • to transmit, or cause to be transmitted by means of wire, radio, or television communication, any
  • writings
  • signs
  • signals
  • pictures, or
  • sounds
  • for the purpose of executing the scheme or artifice. 18 U.S.C. § 1343 (2005).

Much like the wire fraud statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1341, it is simpler to say that wire fraud consists of devising a scheme or artifice to defraud and then using the nation's telecommunications networks to carry that scheme out.

The Punishment

A violation of section 1343 can be punished by

  • a fine,
  • imprisonment for not more than 20 years, or
  • both.

If a violation of section 1343 affects a financial institution, the punishment will be

  • a fine of not more than $ 1,000,000,
  • imprisonment for not more than 30 years, or
  • both. 18 U.S.C. § 1343 (2005).

The essential elements of a violation of section 1343 are fairly simple. To sustain a charge of wire fraud under section 1343, the government must prove two things: 1) the existence of a scheme to defraud, and 2) the use of wires for the purpose of executing the scheme. See United States v. Andrade, 788 F.2d 521, 527 (8th Cir. 1986); United States v. Gordon, 780 F.2d 1165, 1171 (5th Cir. 1986); United States v. Cen-Card Agency, F. Supp. 313, 316 (D.N.J. 1989).