White collar crimes refer to financially motivated nonviolent crimes that are committed by business and government professionals. In the past years, white collar crime cases have made headlines and their frequency has increased in recent years. White collar crimes are often perpetrated by people who are in upper-level positions in business or in the government. They are usually committed by very well educated, smart, and respected members of the society whom people trust. However, these crimes are fueled by the greed for money, which leads to crimes, theft and other violations.
White collar crimes include all types of corporate crimes such as fraud, forgery, bribery, tax evasion, Ponzi schemes, money laundering, industry espionage, intellectual property theft, insider trading, labor racketeering, identity theft, securities violations, internet crimes, embezzlement, copyright infringement, cybercrime, and much more. All these acts are characterized by deceit, violation, or concealment, and do not involve any kind of physical force or violence. According to an article published by the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS), an estimate of losses incurred due to white collar crimes annually falls between $426 billion and $1.7 trillion.
How are white collar crimes committed?
Crimes of this nature are committed to get some form of financial gain using deception. They are committed by people in the business who have access to large amounts of other people’s money as a result of their job position. White collar crimes are not violent and they don’t involve any overtly illegal activities. The perpetrators are involved in lawful businesses, are respectable members of the society, and they usually have a clean record before the discovery of their involvement in any fraudulent scheme.
White collar crimes are usually accomplished by means of complex accounting manipulations, and confusing financial transactions. These fraud schemes may go unnoticed and hidden for decades before being exposed. Crimes of this nature are usually investigated and prosecuted by federal authorities, and in most cases, it is extremely difficult to determine who exactly was involved in them. In many cases, the innocent may become a victim alongside the one who is guilty. Other staff members become unknowing participants of illegal business activities if someone higher up the ladder is engaged in illegal or fraudulent business activities.
Despite white collar crimes being non-violent, they are treated very seriously and can land the offender behind bars for many years. The offender will also face other penalties, including fines, forfeiture of their assets, restitution, loss of their professional license and so on. Being convicted of a white collar crime not only destroys their professional standing, but it may end their freedom and their professional career, and destroy their reputation as a respected member of the society.
When someone is being investigated for a white collar crime, they will usually know about the ongoing investigation targeting them. The suspect may receive a target letter from the state or federal agency informing them that they are under an investigation. They may also be ordered to appear before a grand jury with certain documents which may be required as part of the investigation. They may even have had their business records seized pursuant to a warrant. In any of these cases, it is advised to get in touch with a criminal defense attorney immediately.