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Jul 2, 2020

4 Examples of White-Collar Crimes

White-Collar Crime Defined

White-collar crime is, essentially, a type of crime accessible to those with access to financial systems and documents, whether in the public or private sector. These types of crimes often do not have an obvious victim, like robbery, murder, assault, and other violent crimes. 

Plenty of high-profile figures, like notorious Ponzi scheme artist Bernie Madoff and former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling, are examples of white collar criminals who have been caught, found guilty of their crimes, and sentenced to lengthy terms of imprisonment. These two convicted felons were found guilty of several different types of white-collar crimes, including embezzlement, securities fraud, and money laundering. This blog lays out the details between these and other common white-collar crimes.

  1. Securities fraud. While “fraud” is a general term and can apply to many types of white-collar crime, securities fraud refers to a specific subset of white-collar fraud. Securities fraud can apply to individuals who convince people to part with their money on false pretenses, such as when people are lied to about the potential returns their investment can make. Another common example of securities fraud is insider trading. This occurs when someone uses non-public information (inside) information to guide their decisions on financial transactions. Allegations of insider trading against members of Congress during the lead up to the Pandemic is another example of insider trading.  If true, these Senators and Congressman used their unique knowledge and insider information about the severity of COVID-19, as members of powerful committees, to personally profit by selling off stocks prior to the March market crash.
  2. Embezzlement. A simple way of looking at embezzlement is that it is a more complicated version of theft. When an employee is entrusted with money or property that belongs to his or her employer, it’s expected that they will not pocket or divert the funds for their own personal gain.  If they choose to steal the monies entrusted to them, they can expect to be charged with embezzlement. Oftentimes we see accountants and bookkeepers charged with diverting funds from the company’s books to their own private accounts.  But embezzlement can include examples where the employee is fraudulently filling out time cards for times that they didn’t work and for which they were paid.  There are other examples of embezzlement that are too numerous to list for the purposes of this blog post.
  3. Bribery. This crime is fairly straightforward; it involves one individual unlawfully promising money, assets, or other benefits to another individual in exchange for some sort of benefit such as a tangible asset or a promise to take (or not) a specific action. 
  4. Money laundering. This white-collar crime occurs when someone gains money from an unlawful source, like selling illegal drugs, and converting that money to make it look legitimate. This is sometimes accomplished by “fronts,” like when a drug dealer also operates a florist and deposits money made from the drug dealing to make it look like profits from his business. During this process, the money is appeared to be made clean, or laundered.  Another way money can be laundered is through bank fraud.  We need look no further than the Muller investigation into the Whitehouse where Paul Manafort was ultimately convicted of Conspiracy to Defraud the Government.  As part of his plea agreement, Mr. Manafort was required to disgorge $22 million in “ill gotten gains”, which were chiefly obtained through bank fraud and money laundering. 

Being charged with white-collar crimes can land you in state or federal court where, if convicted, you could be facing years or even decades in prison. As with any criminal charge, you need an effective and proven defense attorney who can efficiently analyze your situation and come up with the best defense possible. The Maine Criminal Defense Group is here to serve you in these situations; get in touch with us today to get started with a confidential consultation.

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