Has Wire Fraud Become More Common During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1029053185.jpgThere are a variety of situations where a person may be accused of committing crimes involving theft or misappropriation of money. Many of these cases fall under the category of white-collar crimes, which typically involve the theft or misuse of people’s financial information or other actions in which a person obtains money fraudulently. White-collar criminal cases will often involve accusations of wire fraud, and in some situations, a person may face federal charges. According to the FBI, instances of wire fraud have increased significantly over the past few years. Those who are accused of these types of crimes will need to understand the nature of an offense and the potential penalties they may face if they are convicted.

What Is Wire Fraud?

Fraud includes any actions in which a person obtains money or property through false pretenses. When these actions involve the use of electronic communications, including phones or internet services, they may be considered wire fraud. Because wire fraud will often involve messages or other forms of communication that are transmitted across multiple states, these offenses may be prosecuted at the federal level.

Examples of wire fraud include:

  • Online scams - A person may obtain money under false pretenses by misrepresenting themselves or receiving payments without any intent of providing the goods or services they have offered.

  • Identity theft - Data breaches may result in the release of people’s personal or financial information, and this information may be used to open financial accounts, take out loans, or make purchases.

  • “Phishing” - A person may be tricked into giving someone else their personal information or allowing them to access their online accounts. Once this type of access is granted, money may be transferred out of their accounts, or purchases may be made using their credit cards.

  • Ransomware - Certain types of software may be used to deny a person access to their computer or data until they pay money to someone else.

  • Theft of government benefits - Providing false information in order to obtain benefits may result in federal charges. During the COVID-19 pandemic, some people have been accused of illegally obtaining benefits through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or misusing the funds received through PPP loans. 

A person who is convicted of federal wire fraud charges may be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. If an offense involved a financial institution or occurred in relation to benefits available because of a major disaster or emergency (such as the COVID-19 pandemic), a person may be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison and fined up to $1 million.

Contact Our Hartford Wire Fraud Defense Lawyer

If you have been accused of committing wire fraud, you will need to determine the best ways to address these accusations, respond to investigations by federal officials, and defend against federal charges. Woolf Law Firm, LLC provides representation in federal criminal cases, and with our understanding of the laws that apply in these situations and the procedures followed in federal courts, we can help you determine the best defense strategy. Contact our Connecticut federal crimes defense attorney today at 860-290-8690 to schedule your complimentary consultation.

Sources:

https://thecrimereport.org/2022/01/21/how-the-pandemic-fueled-a-surge-in-wire-fraud/

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/1343

https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/common-scams-and-crimes/internet-fraud

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