White Collar Crime
What is White Collar Crime?
White collar crime refers to those offenses that are designed to produce financial gain using some form of deception. This type of crime is usually committed by people in the business world who, as a result of their job position, are able to gain access to large amounts of other people’s money. White collar crime does not involve violent, drug-related, or overtly illegal activities. In fact, perpetrators are typically involved in otherwise lawful businesses and may hold respectable positions in the community prior to the discovery of their fraudulent schemes.
Most white collar crime is investigated and prosecuted by federal authorities. This is not good news for the accused, as federal conviction rates are high, and U.S. District Attorney’s offices have substantial resources available to pursue wrongdoers. There is a common misconception among the general public that defendants convicted of white collar crimes will be treated with leniency. In reality, sentences handed down for purely financial crimes can be as long or longer than sentences handed down in cases involving violence or drugs.
Common Types of Offenses
A broad range of white collar crimes are perpetrated each day in the United States, the variety of these crimes being limited only by the imagination of those who commit them. Examples include tax evasion, insider trading, insurance fraud, bribery, embezzlement, and money laundering. Some offenses are committed on a small scale, like when individuals filing for liquidation bankruptcy fail to disclose personal assets on their petition. Other times, a single fraud can affect the lives of hundreds or thousands of people, such as investment frauds committed by securities brokers.
The largest and most infamous example of white collar crime ever discovered took the form of a giant Ponzi scheme. Named after a swindler who operated nearly a century ago, Ponzi schemes involve the solicitation and misappropriation of investment money. Early clients are not paid from profits, but rather from investment funds collected from later clients. In this particular case, New York money manager Bernard Madoff used such a scheme to rob clients of an estimated $65 billion. He pleaded guilty in 2009 and was sentenced to 150 years in prison.
Dealing with an Investigation
One of the unique aspects of white collar crime is that suspects will often become aware of the fact that they are being investigated days, weeks, or even months prior to their arrest. While this can cause suspects to experience fear and apprehension about the future, it also provides an opportunity not available to those who are arrested without warning. By retaining a criminal defense attorney at the first indication of trouble, individuals may be able to considerably reduce their exposure to criminal liability and perhaps avoid charges all together.
A defense attorney will not directly impede the investigative efforts of law enforcement. However, individuals who are represented by counsel are far less likely to unknowingly waive constitutional legal protections, or relent to the demands of investigators when there is no need to do so. And while plea bargaining typically occurs following an arrest, a skilled criminal defense lawyer will act proactively, engaging the prosecuting attorneys early in the process. Many cases are successfully resolved through negotiation before formal court proceedings begin.
Strategies for Trial
In an ordinary criminal trial, several witnesses and police officers are called to testify, some physical exhibits are introduced into evidence, and the entire trial is finished in a day or two. By contrast, cases alleging white collar crimes may take weeks to try before the jury. The number of exhibits alone can be overwhelming, with potentially thousands of documents, emails, and other items of evidence that must be accepted by the judge and reviewed by the jury members. Fortunately for defendants, the size and complexities of these trials can sometimes be a strategic advantage.
The burden of proving a case belongs to the government. So while government prosecutors are inundating the jury with the volumes of financial records necessary to prove their case, the defendant can present his or her argument in a concise, simple manner. After all, it only takes a single flaw in the government’s case to obtain an acquittal. If the defendant can identify a flaw, and elucidate it succinctly, jury members will be grateful to the defendant for making their job easier. Poking a single hole in a complex case can be a winning trial strategy for white collar offenses, but it requires the ingenuity and finesse of an accomplished defense lawyer.
White Collar Crime Defense Attorneys
If you are in danger of being prosecuted for a white collar crime, your career and reputation are on the line. Worse yet, your very freedom may be at stake. With so much to lose, you need to retain a specialist. Contact a white collar crime lawyer today for advice about your situation.
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Articles on HG.org Related to White Collar Crime
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White Collar Crime - US
- ABA - White Collar Crime Committee
To develop a "Brady Best Practices" group consisting of public defenders, prosecutors, defense lawyers, judges, ethics officers, academics, and Department of Justice officials which will study and survey the Brady obligations and practices around the country. It will not be confined to White Collar issues and will look at both the state and federal side. The goal of the group will be to propose a model practice for the identification and production, in a timely manner, of exculpatory materials to defendants in federal criminal prosecutions.
- FBI - White Collar Crime
Fraud—the art of deliberate deception for unlawful gain—is as old as history; the term "white-collar crime" was reportedly coined in 1939 by Professor Edwin Sutherland and has since become synonymous with the full range of frauds committed by business and government professionals. Today's con artists are more savvy and sophisticated than ever, engineering everything from slick online scams to complex stock and health care frauds. Here you can learn about the many white-collar crimes we investigate, how to protect yourself from common scams, and what to do if you think you've been victimized.
- Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009
he Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009, or FERA, Pub.L. 111-21, 123 Stat. 1617, S. 386, is a public law in the United States enacted in 2009. The law takes a number of steps to enhance criminal enforcement of federal fraud laws, especially regarding financial institutions, mortgage fraud, and securities fraud or commodities fraud.
- Health Care Fraud Enforcement Act of 2009
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- National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) - White Collar Crime
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Your complete source for assistance, information and alert reports regarding counterfeit checks, forgery, check fraud, bank fraud and white collar crimes.
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- United States Sentencing Commission - White Collar Crime
The United States Sentencing Commission is an independent agency in the judicial branch of government. Its principal purposes are: (1) to establish sentencing policies and practices for the federal courts, including guidelines to be consulted regarding the appropriate form and severity of punishment for offenders convicted of federal crimes; (2) to advise and assist Congress and the executive branch in the development of effective and efficient crime policy; and (3) to collect, analyze, research, and distribute a broad array of information on federal crime and sentencing issues, serving as an information resource for Congress, the executive branch, the courts, criminal justice practitioners, the academic community, and the public.
- White Collar Crime - Overview
The phrase "white-collar crime" was coined in 1939 during a speech given by Edwin Sutherland to the American Sociological Society. Sutherland defined the term as "crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation." Although there has been some debate as to what qualifies as a white-collar crime, the term today generally encompasses a variety of nonviolent crimes usually committed in commercial situations for financial gain.
- White Collar Crime - Wikipedia
Within the field of criminology, white-collar crime or 'incorporated governance' has been defined by Edwin Sutherland as "a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation" (1949). Sutherland was a proponent of Symbolic Interactionism, and believed that criminal behaviour was learned from interpersonal interaction with others. White-collar crime therefore overlaps with corporate crime because the opportunity for fraud, bribery, insider trading, embezzlement, computer crime, and forgery is more available to white-collar employees.
White Collar Crime - International
- Canada - White Collar Crime
Fraud can include securities-related frauds such as Ponzi schemes, insider trading, and accounting frauds that overstate the value of securities. It also includes mass marketing fraud, mortgage and real estate fraud, and many other deceptive practices. There are always two elements that characterize fraud - deception or some other form of dishonest conduct, and depriving another person of their property or putting their property at risk.
Europol is the European Law Enforcement Agency which aims at improving the effectiveness and co–operation of the competent authorities in the Member States in preventing and combating terrorism, unlawful drug trafficking and other serious forms of organised crime.
- Fighting White Collar Crime - Asia
One trend I am observing is the huge interest in Hong Kong in rogue traders and white collar crime – and how CEP can be used to detect and prevent this – before it moves the market. Obviously the original rogue trader, Nick Leeson, is well known here. But there has been a great deal of interest in more recent goings-on, at firms such as SocGen. Amazingly, until a couple of years ago, insider trading was not illegal in Hong Kong.
- Globalization and the Federal Prosecution of White Collar Crime
Omitted from most of the recent discussions on the federalization of criminal law is the impact of federal investigations and prosecutions involving international activities. This essay specifically focuses on the international flavor developing in the prosecution of white collar crime. It discusses statutes with clear legislative language indicating extraterritoriality through either a direct international focus (Foreign Corrupt Practices Act), or through the specific incorporation of an extraterritorial provision in the statute.
Organizations Related to White Collar Crime
- National Criminal Justice Reference Service - White Collar Crime
NCJRS offers extensive reference and referral services to help you find answers to your questions about crime and justice-related research, policy, and practice.
- National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C)
The mission of the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) is to provide training, investigative support and research to agencies and entities involved in the prevention, investigation and prosecution of economic and high-tech crime.
- White Collar Crime Fighter
White-Collar Crime Fighter brings you expert strategies and actionable advice from the most prominent experts in the fraud-fighting business. Each month you’ll learn about the latest frauds, scams and schemes... and the newest and most effective fraud-fighting tools, techniques and technologies you can put to work immediately to protect your organization.
- White Collar Fraud
Learn from a convicted felon about white collar fraud. I teach law enforcement, government entities, businesses, professionals, and students about white collar crime and train them to catch corporate miscreants. I do not teach about ethics or redemption. Rather, I teach about the immorality and unethical behavior of white collar criminals from my own cold-blooded experience and how to deal with such menaces to society. In addition, I provide forensic accounting, financial reporting analysis, due diligence, litigation support, and research on companies for certain clients.