Blitz Q #122: What the heck is “wire fraud”?

I’ve watched tons of true crime programs in the past few decades, and recently as I tried to clean (or get some rest while sick), I’ve had American Greed on. And when we get to the end of the episode, there are usually a bunch of charges, and one of the big ones always seems to be “wire fraud”.

And this has brought up a question that’s bugged me for a long time: what exactly is wire fraud?

I suppose I’m a little confused because it seems like such an old term on the books and all, and it seems to apply rather broadly to anything related to theft, especially for the people on such white-collar criminal programs.

So far, what I’ve found is “wire fraud” entails knowingly and intentionally working to defraud people out of money or information for personal gain. That’s fraud in itself, but “wire fraud” supposedly indicates using telecommunications to do the scheme, whether by phone, e-mail, internet, or anything that’s not “mail fraud” or face-to-face fraud.

It just seems like such a broad term, and it made me wonder why use such an antiquated term.

But then again, maybe there’s a reason for that: new terms mean new definitions, which also means new tricks and loopholes for lawyers to try and exploit.

“Wire fraud” just sounds so old, but I guess it’s still quite fitting, so might as well keep it.

I wonder about other antiquated or antiquated feeling laws and regs are on the books that we have to deal with every day.

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