what is wire fraud in government contractingWire fraud is a crime that involves the use of electronic communications, such as email or text messages, fax machines and telephone line to commit illicit acts such as payment of government contract invoices, federal contract awards, or traditional crimes such as identity theft or money laundering. Avoiding charges of fraud is the most important goal for any criminal defendant. 

Charges for wire fraud usually occur when an individual or a government contractor provides false information or a false certification to deceive the government or another person into transferring funds or assets. In government contract fraud cases, federal prosecutors find evidence of an underlying crime such as small business fraud (HUBZone, 8a BD or SDVOSB fraud), procurement fraud schemes, etc. Then, the prosecutor brings charges of fraud against the contractor or its employees.  

What is wire fraud as a government contractor? Faud as a federal government contractor occurs when a contractor knowingly or recklessly engages in any fraudulent activity related to the solicitation, award of,  or performance of a contract, including providing false claims for payment of invoices. These types of fraud efforts can significantly impact taxpayer dollars and public funds. To prevent this type of fraud, companies and federal government contractors should develop internal policies and that require proper documentation of their work and submitted invoices. Government contractors and their employees understand the consequences of fraud against the government. 

Elements of wire fraud

The elements of wire fraud statute under 18 USC Section 1343 are similar to the elements of the federal mail fraud statute. The difference is that wire fraud elements for government contractors call for the use of an interstate telephone call or electronic communication made in furtherance of the scheme.

The four critical elements of wire fraud are: (1) that the defendant voluntarily and intentionally devised or participated in a scheme to defraud the government out of money or something of value; (2) that the defendant did so with the intent to defraud the g government ; (3) that it was reasonably foreseeable that interstate wire communications would be used to either get government contracts, benefits from a government program; payment of money etc; and (4) that interstate wire communications were in fact used.

What are the Consequences of Wire Fraud?

The penalties for wire fraud may include fines, incarceration and restitution. Depending on the facts of the case, the consequences include up to 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or both.  Government contractors convicted fraud can also face civil liability as well. This means that they could be required to pay forfeiture damages to the government and the public in addition to fines and jail time. See.  Federal False Claims Act Elements and FCA Defenses(Opens in a new browser tab)

What are Examples in Government Contracting?

Some examples of violations of the wire fraud statute in government contracting may include Bidding on government contracts using false information, omissions or misrepresentations, submitting false invoices using telephone lines, or taking kickbacks from subcontractors. Other examples include fraudulent activities including price-fixing. See if wire fraud is a felony.

What is the Statute of Limitations for Wire Fraud?

The statute of limitations for wire fraud and mail fraud criminal prosecutions is five years. See 18 USC  3282. The exception to the five-year rule is fraud schemes that affect financial institutions, in which case the statute is ten years under 8 USC 3293. 

Must You Hire a Lawyer for Fraud Charges if You are a Government Contractor?

If you are a federal government contractor facing charges of fraud against the government, wire fraud charges or mail fraud charges, having a contractor fraud attorney who understands the government contracting process can minimize the chances of indictment or conviction in a criminal case. There is technically no requirement to hire criminal defense attorneys for fraud defense.  

Get Immediate Help

If you are a government contractor or individual charged with wire fraud, contact our government contract fraud attorneys for immediate help. Call us at 1.866.601.5518.