America’s Top State for Wire Fraud? Florida

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) releases rankings of rates of fraud by state, and Florida continues to top the list, with Georgia in second place. Wire fraud is a serious crime at both the state and Federal level, and with rates so high in Florida the FTC will be keeping a close eye on fraud activities in the state. 

Wire fraud involves the deception of another person, such as the use of false promises or representations, to obtain money or property. The commission of a fraudulent scheme in Florida carries penalties of up to 30 years or life in prison, and up to 5 years imprisonment for the wire communication alone, as well as hefty fines.

What is Wire Fraud under Florida Law?

Wire fraud is covered under the Florida Communications Fraud Act, which covers both offenses of carrying out fraudulent schemes, and the use of the wires for communication in the transmission of that scheme. If you have been charged with wire fraud, contact a defense lawyer immediately to get advice or assistance.

The Act sets out in section 817.034 4(b) that anyone who:

  1. engages in a scheme to defraud; and
  2. in furtherance of that scheme, communicates with any person with intent to obtain property from that person,
  3. is guilty, for each such act of communication, of communications fraud.

Under this law, “communicate” means to:

“transmit or transfer or to cause another to transmit or transfer signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligences of any nature in whole or in part by mail, or by wire, radio, electromagnetic, photoelectronic, or photooptical system”.

This means that if you have carried out a scheme of fraud, or been charged with fraud, you can also be charged with wire or mail fraud (i.e. the communication involved in the scheme) as additional charges. It is important to note that it does not matter if the scheme has been successful; for these charges it only matters that you engaged with a scheme to defraud, and communicated with intent to obtain property, in furtherance of that scheme.

It is also important to understand that you can be charged separately for each act of communication. This means that if you sent letters to, or called a large number of people, you can be charged individually for each person you contacted, or for each instance in which you contacted an individual person, such as multiple phone calls to the same target. The penalties can add up significantly as a result.

Can you be Charged Under Federal Laws As Well?

If you have operated a scheme of fraud across state lines, you can also be charged with wire fraud at a Federal level. Under 18 U.S. Code § 1343 federal wire fraud charges can be brought if you:

  1. devised or were intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud for obtaining money or property;
  2. by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises; and
  3. you used the wires for the purpose of executing such a scheme or artifice.

You can receive large fines or imprisonment up to 20 years under this section. Both Federal and state charges can be brought simultaneously if a scheme of fraud has been extensive, and if this applies to you it is crucial that you seek legal advice as soon as possible.

Defending Against Wire Fraud Charges

Alleged victims of fraud, or those who want to report it, can do so through the FTC Report Fraud website. It’s not as easy to defend these possible criminal charges, and you need a skilled defense lawyer like Ben Stechschulte on your side. If you have been accused of fraud in your business or personally, it is critically important that you establish a good defense to these charges. 

Potential defense strategies include:

Legitimate business activities can sometimes appear fraudulent if a customer did not receive what they expected, or received services that were not high quality. However, for fraud charges it must be proven that you intended to defraud someone through the use of false or deceptive statements – mistake or low quality services or goods is insufficient for a fraud charge to be brought.

Should your case be brought to trial, we can argue: 

  1. That there was no scheme to defraud – i.e. that your business or personal activities were legitimate
  2. That you did not intend to deceive or defraud anyone, or intend to obtain any money or property
  3. That no false statements or deceptive statements were made
  4. That you did not use any of the stated methods to communicate

If you believe you have evidence that could support any of these defenses, make sure that you present it to your defense team to help you with your case.

Call Stechschulte Nell For Help 

If you would have been charged with wire fraud in Florida, the attorneys of Stechschulte Nell can advise you. Call our top-rated Tampa, FL law firm at (813) 280-1244 to speak to an experienced federal defense attorney. We’re available 24/7 to take your call.

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