What Exactly Is a White Collar Crime?
A white collar crime is a nonviolent crime committed for financial gain. According to the FBI, white collar crimes are characterized by concealment, deceit, or violation of trust. The motivation for this type of crime is to obtain a personal or business advantage, or to obtain or avoid losing money, property, or services.
What Types of Crimes Are Considered White Collar?
In a nutshell, white collar crimes are nonviolent crimes committed to financially enrich the perpetrators. Since the term was coined in 1949 by sociologist Edwin Sutherland, these crimes have been associated with affluent, educated people. They may involve fraudulent investment opportunities or misrepresentation of a corporation’s finances. Examples of white collar crimes include:
Corporate fraud: The FBI treats corporate fraud as a priority, because of its potential to not only cause significant losses to investors but to damage the nation’s economy and investor confidence. Corporate fraud may involve falsification of financial information (accounting schemes conceived to deceive others), or self-dealing, in which company employees act to enrich themselves at the expense of investors or other parties (insider trading is a notorious example).
Money laundering: This is the process of making “dirty” cash earned from illegal activities, such as drug trafficking, appear to be earnings from a legal business, or “clean.” Money is commonly laundered through real estate, international trade, precious metals, and Bitcoin or other virtual currency.
Embezzlement: A person entrusted by an employer or someone else to handle money or property who uses that position to misappropriate funds is embezzling. One example is a politician who uses campaign funds for personal expenses.
Ponzi schemes: In a Ponzi scheme, the perpetrator draws on funds provided by new investors to pay returns promised to previous investors. This type of scheme requires continuously recruiting more investors, and fails when demand for returns from existing investors becomes greater than the funds coming in from newly recruited investors.
Extortion: This involves coercing a person or institution to relinquish money, property, or services with threats. One example is blackmail, in which the victim pays money to prevent the perpetrator from divulging certain information. Another example is “protection money” paid by businesses to local gangs.
Bankruptcy fraud: Bankruptcy is designed to provide financial relief for individuals and businesses burdened with overwhelming debt. This is done at the expense of creditors, who can only collect a small portion of the debtor’s nonessential assets. Bankruptcy fraud involves intentionally hiding property or assets during the process, to keep it away from creditors.
Penalties can be severe upon conviction of a white collar crime. If you are facing charges of corporate fraud, embezzlement, or another white collar crime, it is in your best interests to consult with an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. Our Colorado Springs criminal defense attorney at The Bussey Law Firm, P.C. has a decades of experience and history of success for our clients. We have won countless criminal defense cases over the years. Call us at (719) 475-2555 today to schedule a free initial consultation if you are facing white collar criminal charges.