White-collar crimes primarily include financial crimes like fraud or embezzlement. In many cases, these crimes take place over several years and may involve hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. Because of this, white-collar crimes are prosecuted harshly. Read our blog to learn more.
Fraud is a crime that involves the intentional misrepresentation of truth or concealment of a material fact to induce another person to act to their detriment. It differs from other crimes such as theft or robbery, which involve taking something without permission or consent. Fraud can take many forms, including identity theft, credit card fraud, pyramid schemes, and charity scams.
The consequences of committing fraud can be severe; those convicted may face fines, imprisonment, and other legal penalties. White-collar crime, which is a type of fraud, is a class of crimes that encompasses a variety of non-violent criminal activities, usually committed in commercial or business situations for financial gain. These crimes are often carried out by individuals or groups of people who hold positions of trust and authority within organizations.
What is White Collar Crime?
The term "white-collar crime" was first coined by sociologist Edwin Sutherland in 1939. He defined it as "a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation." Today, the definition has expanded to include a wide range of financially motivated, non-violent crimes committed by professionals and businesses.
Some common examples of white-collar crime include:
- Fraud: Deceiving others for personal gain, such as investment fraud, insurance fraud, or mortgage fraud.
- Embezzlement: Misappropriating funds entrusted to one's care for personal use.
- Insider trading: Illegally trading stocks based on non-public information.
- Money laundering: Concealing the origins of illegally obtained money, typically by passing it through a complex sequence of banking transfers or commercial transactions.
- Tax evasion: Illegally avoiding tax payments by underreporting income, inflating deductions, or hiding money in offshore accounts.
Crime Spotlight: Wire Fraud
Wire fraud in particular is a complicated crime with very serious consequences. According to 18 U.S.C. 1343, the essential elements of wire fraud are a scheme to defraud and the use of, or causing the use of, interstate wire communications in furtherance of that scheme. It is considered a federal offense and can result in fines and up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Wire fraud charges may also apply to direct messages that pertain to fraudulent activity including:
- Facebook messages
- Snapchat stories, and direct messages
- Instagram direct messages
- And other social media
The severity of the punishment reflects the value of the crime. In other words, Wire fraud is particularly dangerous because it often involves large sums of money or valuable property and can be committed quickly with minimal effort by using electronic communication such as email or text messaging.
It is also important to note that in addition to carrying serious penalties, wire fraud is typically charged per count meaning each individual text, email, phone call, or letter could be an individual charge. Because of this, many wire fraud cases involve multiple counts and potential sentences that include decades in prison.
Legal Defenses for White Collar Crime Cases
Detecting and prosecuting white-collar crimes can be challenging due to their complex nature and the fact that they often involve sophisticated schemes and cover-ups. However, several strategies can be employed to combat these crimes.
- Entrapment: In some cases, law enforcement may go undercover to investigate a crime. Police must abide by specific rules when undercover. For example, investigators cannot induce a person to commit a crime to facilitate an arrest. If entrapment occurs, it could erode the integrity of a criminal investigation.
- Whistleblower protection: Encouraging employees to report suspected white-collar crimes can be an effective way to uncover illicit activities. Providing strong legal protections and financial incentives for whistleblowers can help create an environment where individuals feel safe to come forward with information.
- Education and awareness: Raising public awareness about white-collar crime and the potential consequences can help deter would-be criminals. This can be achieved through educational programs, public service announcements, and media coverage of high-profile cases. However, if a person was genuinely unaware that their actions were illegal, they may be able to build a defense.
Our Attorney Can Help
White-collar crimes are serious offenses that can have a devastating impact on an individual's life. Those charged with white-collar crimes face hefty fines, penalties, and reputational damage that can affect their prospects. The complexities of white-collar cases require an experienced attorney to navigate well. An experienced attorney can provide legal advice, prepare a vigorous defense plan, negotiate plea deals, and represent their clients in court.
It is essential for individuals charged with white-collar crimes to retain legal representation from a skilled and experienced attorney. At Nichols Dixon PLLC, our qualified attorneys can provide the best possible outcome for clients by utilizing their knowledge of investigative techniques and evidentiary standards. With the help of our knowledgeable legal team, individuals accused of white-collar crimes can pursue the most optimal result.
Contact Nichols Dixon PLLC for legal guidance regarding fraud, white-collar crimes, and more.