Miami Man Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud in High-Tech Cell Phone Cloning Case
In late August of this year 37-year-old Edwin Fana pleaded guilty to numerous criminal charges resulting from a high-tech operation where he and others essentially transmitted international phone calls through the accounts of unsuspecting cell phone owners by cloning their phones. Totaling at least $1,000,000 in losses to the account owners, Fana now faces sentencing for those charges including conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud.
Wire fraud occurs when a person uses a telecommunication device as part of a scheme to defraud someone else. Wire fraud is punishable on both the federal level and the state level meaning that if you are found guilty of the offense, you could face penalties at both levels.
Florida Communications Fraud Act Penalizes Wire Fraud at the State Level
Under the Florida Communications Fraud Act, the legislature hopes to clarify older laws and further its goal of preventing people from utilizing communication technology in committing fraud. The statute defines the term “communicate” as the transfer, either directly or indirectly, of data or intelligences of any nature. A person is guilty of wire fraud where they:
- Engage in a scheme to defraud and through that fraud obtains or property or;
- In furtherance of a scheme to defraud, communicate with any person with intent to obtain property from that person.
Penalties for fraud range from misdemeanor charges to felony charges depending on the valuation of the property obtained or attempted to be obtained, and each attempt to commit the fraud is considered a separate offense.
Federal Wire Fraud Laws are Extremely Broad
Federal wire fraud convictions carry a maximum prison sentence of 30 years depending on whether or not the victim of the fraud is a financial institution. The text of the statute setting forth the law provides that any person devising or intending to devise a scheme defraud another to obtain money or property by false pretenses through any signal shall be guilty of fraud by wire, radio or television.
To be convicted of wire fraud, prosecutors must prove that:
- You participated in a scheme to defraud in order to obtain property;
- You intended to the fraud;
- It was reasonably foreseeable that interstate wire communication would be used; and
- Wire communications were used
It is important to note that the elements required for a federal wire fraud conviction are fairly broad, meaning that legal expertise is required in developing the most effective defense.
Fraud Cases are Serious; You Need a Serious Attorney
Sometimes, the line between fraud and entrepreneurship can be fuzzy. No business can expect success without telecommunications and as such, it is imaginable that a person may inadvertently incriminate themselves by virtue of a seemingly innocent act. Wire fraud statutes are broad and encompass a variety of activities. Other times, individuals make decisions that are in contradiction with state and federal laws. If you or someone you know is under investigation for wire fraud, please call Miami attorney Jeffrey S. Weiner today. With decades of experience defending white-collar crimes including wire fraud, we know how important an experienced criminal defense attorney is to your case.