White Collar Crimes
White-collar crime has become an increasingly familiar phenomenon in the last few years. From high-profile investment fraud schemes to identity theft, it seems that these crimes are here to stay and are on the rise. With millions of dollars every year on the line, law enforcement has a keen interest in prosecuting white-collar crime.
What Is White-Collar Crime?
“White-collar crime” is not an exact legal term. It is general descriptive name used to refer to a variety of crimes. Most of the crimes in this informal category are called “white-collar” crimes because they are sometimes committed by people working in business, banking or investing sectors.
In general, white-collar crimes are nonviolent, illegal activities that use deceit, manipulation or breach of trust to accomplish an illicit goal. Some common examples are:
- Money Laundering. Money laundering is the act of disguising illegally obtained funds, or “dirty” money, by concealing them in a seemingly legitimate business operation.
- Mail Fraud. The charge of mail fraud can be applied to any crime that uses the U.S. Postal Service or a private mail carrier to accomplish its illegal goals. An example would be using the mail to send forged or fraudulent documents to someone in exchange for money. Mail fraud is a federal crime.
- Ponzi Schemes. These schemes have become especially notorious after a series of high-profile cases involving billions of dollars made headlines in recent years. A Ponzi scheme involves an investment manager presenting a false investment opportunity to a few wealthy clients. The investors then hand over their money and the fraudster brings in more investors to pay “profits” to the original investors while pocketing the initial funds.
- Securities Fraud. This is another white-collar crime that has been in the news recently. A security is any tradable asset. Securities fraud occurs when an investment company hides or refuses to disclose its financial information to regulators and investors. This sometimes includes insider trading.
Many white-collar crimes involve federally regulated industries like banking and investing. As a result, most white-collar crimes are prosecuted as federal offenses and require a tough legal defense from an experienced attorney.