Wire Fraud Act

18 U.S.C. § 1343  | (1952)

Legal Definition of Wire Fraud Act

prohibited interstate wire, radio, or television transmissions whose contents included “any scheme or artifice to defraud.” Adopted as an amendment to the Communications Act of 1934, which established the Federal Communications Commission as the regulatory agency of the communications industry, the provisions of the Wire Fraud Act were modeled after those of the Mail Fraud Act of 1872, which extended federal jurisdiction to crimes within the states' jurisdiction that were injurious to private individuals. Unlike common-law definitions of fraud, which rely on specific intent, the Mail and Wire Fraud acts make it a crime to use the mails or electronic communications media to defraud, regardless of whether the scheme succeeds in deceiving a victim. Both acts have also been interpreted broadly by the courts as devices to use in prosecuting corrupt state and local officials who have abused their offices and deprived citizens of their right to honest government.

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Cite this Entry

“Wire Fraud Act.” Merriam-Webster.com Legal Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/legal/Wire%20Fraud%20Act. Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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