Wire Fraud Definition and Statute Sentencing Guidelines

April 14, 2010

A commonly used federal law to prosecute misrepresentations and frauds is the statute known as “wire fraud.” The United States Attorney’s Office will also seek an Indictment alleging wire fraud when it believes that the evidence will support any type of scheme to defraud that uses interstate wire communications further the fraud scheme. Wire communications utilized by persons who were engaged in a scheme to defraud are often the following: wire transfers of monies to or from a financial institution; electronic mail (e-mail) communications; facsimile (FAX) transmissions; and radio or television communications.

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The violation of “wire fraud” is also a commonly used criminal law used to prosecute people for committing fraud while using wire communications that travel interstate or internationally.

Under Title 18, United States Code, Section 1014, it is a federal crime to commit fraud using a wire communication that travels in interstate or foreign commerce. 18 U.S.C. §1343 reads as follows:



1)  having devised, or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, or
2)  for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises
3)  transmits, or causes to be transmitted, by wire, radio or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce,
4)  any writings, signs, signals, pictures, or sounds
5)  for the purpose of executing the scheme or artifice shall be fined…or imprisoned for more than 20 years, or both.

What are the sentencing guidelines for felony cases?

The Federal Sentencing Guidelines determine sentences based primarily on two factors: (1) the conduct associated with the offense (the offense conduct, which produces the “offense level”), and (2) the defendant’s criminal history (the “criminal history category”). The
conduct associated with the offense is set by the US government and is found in the Federal Sentencing Guidelines Manual. The criminal history category is compiled by associating a number to a specific prior offense whether a misdemeanor or felony. If the
prior crimes were committed beyond a certain period of time, they may not be eligible to score against you.

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