White-collar crimes are commonly nonviolent schemes committed by people in financial sectors, hence the name. The advancing of technology has enabled offenders to commit more crimes through communication avenues. A type of white-collar crime in California is wire fraud, which is usually charged at the federal level.
Overview of wire fraud
A main goal of white-collar criminal acts such as wire fraud is for personal gain through deceit, misstatements and omissions. Wire fraud is a crime that use radio, television, texts, emails, images and other electronic media for fraudulent purposes. The U.S. Department of Justice sets the four elements needed to prove a case:
- The defendant must have been involved in a scheme.
- The defendant acted intentionally and knowingly.
- The defendant had the intention to use wired communication.
- The scam caused financial losses.
Examples of wire fraud
The Nigerian scam often claims to be from a prince in a dangerous situation who needs money transferred. They emailer wants money transferred until they can safely access it, and they promise the target some of the money. However, the scammer only sends this email to gain access to the victim’s banking information, often called phishing, and never wires the money.
Telemarketing commonly occurs over the telephone when a scammer makes a false promise or statement to steal personal data. A fraudulent telemarketer may claim the target has won a lottery, but the target must give their banking information to collect funds.
Penalties for wire fraud
Wire fraud can include penalties of up to 20 years of jail and $250,000 in fines for individuals and $500,000 for businesses. The fines can increase to $1 million and jail time to 30 years if the target is a financial institution or it occurs during states of emergency.
In order to secure a conviction, the prosecution must prove that the defendant committed the crime beyond reasonable doubt. However, the defendant may be able to successfully fight the charges.