|(21 Jul 2023)
According to the latest data on federal prosecutions, the total number of federal prosecutions with wire fraud as the lead charge is projected by September to reach 1,304. The pace thus far in FY 2023 is the highest on record since TRAC began tracking these data points in the 1980s. For the third year in a row, consistent with the start of the Biden administration, wire fraud charges will exceed 1,000 prosecutions filed.
Alongside the growing number of wire fraud charges, the number of convictions for wire fraud has also risen. Records show that 88 percent of all prosecutions under this lead charge result in a conviction on one or more counts. If current trends continue, FY 2023 will see the highest number of these convictions ever, with a projected total of 1,101—the first time convictions for wire fraud will cross 1,000 in a single year.
These results are based on an analysis of detailed case-by-case government records obtained by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) under court order after successful litigation against the U.S. Department of Justice under the Freedom of Information Act.
In recent years, federal prosecutors have included wire fraud charges against high-profile defendants, such as Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes and FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, as well as other less public figures. For example, Holmes was convicted of three counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Bankman-Fried has been indicted on two counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
The additional charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which appears in many of these cases, was added to the law in 2002 and saw its first prosecutions where it was recorded as the lead charge in 2003. The number of these prosecutions peaked in FY 2011, and although these charges still make up a significant number of wire fraud charges, its use as the lead charge has been declining overall for the past decade.
For context, the increase in wire fraud prosecutions juxtaposes with the trend of a long term decline in the prosecution of white-collar crime overall which includes all types of fraud, as TRAC reported recently, with FY 2023 projected to be the least number of prosecutions filed since the beginning of the record in 1986.
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