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What Defenses Exist in Cases of Wire Fraud?

Wire fraud is a criminal offense that occurs when a person intentionally uses a communications device (such as the internet or a telephone) as a means of defrauding another person of their property or anything of value. In certain circumstances, wire fraud can result in significant fines and prison time.

The defenses a person charged with wire fraud can use will vary based on the circumstances of their individual cases. However, there are two particularly common types of defenses used in wire fraud cases that are worth noting. Let’s take a look.

The “puffery” defense

Salespeople who work online or over the phone frequently use exaggerations, opinions or flattery in attempt to persuade people to purchase their products. While the ethics of such practices might be dubious, puffery is legal and can be used as a defense against wire fraud.

If you have a person who states over the phone that a product is “amazing,” or “the best ever,” they’re likely not to be committing wire fraud because reasonable listeners would not rely solely on that opinion for the basis of their purchase. However, clear falsehoods, such as lying about the composition of a product or making certain guarantees that cannot be backed up, can result in a wire fraud charge because those are materially false claims.

The good faith defense

For something to actually qualify as fraud, there must have been intent to defraud. A person who has been acting in good faith cannot be convicted of fraud because there was no intent to defraud the victim. Negative outcomes alone are not indicative of fraud.

For more information about defenses against wire fraud charges, contact experienced Reading, PA criminal defense lawyer David R. Eshelman.


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