Types of White Collar Crimes
A white collar crime is often defined as one that is victimless, although this isn’t actually accurate. White collar crimes do harm victims, although the harm is financial, rather than physical. There are many types of white collar crimes, but they share similar elements. For instance, they are typically motivated by financial gain and perpetrated by deceitful means. Embezzlement and other white collar crimes are treated harshly by prosecutors and the court system. If you’ve been arrested or you suspect you’re under investigation, you need to contact a criminal defense attorney right away to preserve your legal rights and advocate on your behalf.
Embezzlement is one of the most common types of white collar crimes. A person who commits embezzlement misappropriates financial assets to which they are legally entrusted with. The most common example is an employee who siphons money from an employer into their own pocket. For example, a retail clerk entrusted with depositing funds into a bank account might pilfer some of the cash before depositing the rest. Another example is a professional, such as an accountant, who has been entrusted with a client’s money. That professional may siphon cash for their own personal gain.
If you’ve heard of the Bernie Madoff investment scam, you may already be familiar with Ponzi schemes. A Ponzi scheme is a type of investment fraud. Individual investors are convinced to entrust their money to the scammer after being promised a high rate of return with little risk. The scammer steals the money entrusted to them while continuing to entice new investors. Some of the money acquired from the new investors is used to pay modest returns to the older investors. However, when the flow of money dries up, the investors receive nothing and realize they have been scammed.
Insider trading refers to the purchase or sale of a company’s stock by someone who has insider information about the stock. Insider information is considered to be information that is not publicly available and that will significantly affect the stock.
One famous example of insider trading is the case of Martha Stewart, who received non-publicly available information about the bio-pharmaceutical company ImClone Systems. Stewart sold her stock shortly before the FDA rejected the company’s newest anti-cancer drug. The sale saved her tens of thousands of dollars, but she was charged with insider trading and ultimately served five months in a federal facility.
One problem some criminals face is the question of how to safely bank, invest, or use money acquired through criminal enterprises. The solution is often money laundering, a serious crime in itself. Money laundering is the process of transferring money from one account to another for the purpose of making it appear as if it had been legitimately earned. This process can either be simple or highly complex.
One common tactic is the use of “front” businesses—legitimate companies whose revenues are inflated with “dirty” money. Money laundering is a felony offense that may be prosecuted under state or federal law. Convicted offenders may serve lengthy prison sentences.
Identity theft is an extremely common type of white collar crime. It occurs when someone steals someone else’s personal information and uses it to commit fraud. For example, an identity thief may fraudulently file someone else’s income tax return for the purpose of stealing the tax refund.
Alternatively, someone’s sensitive information could be used to fraudulently take out a credit card in that person’s name, and then rack up significant debt. It’s even possible to commit medical identity theft. This occurs when an identity thief pretends to be someone else for the purpose of securing medical care that the thief doesn’t have to pay for.
In Arizona, a first offense of identity theft is charged as a class four felony. The standard punishment is two and a half years. In addition, victims may seek compensation in civil court.
With so many people out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of claims for unemployment benefits has skyrocketed. In many states, the sheer number of claims has overwhelmed the unemployment processing system. Some of those claims were fraudulently submitted. Unemployment fraud occurs when someone collects benefits based on false or inaccurate information that was intentionally provided.
In Arizona, unemployment fraud is a felony offense. A conviction may result in up to two years in prison and a fine of $150,000 per false statement. Each week of received unemployment benefits is considered a separate false statement.
Being accused of a white collar crime could jeopardize your freedom and your professional reputation. You need aggressive legal representation from an experienced, strategic criminal defense attorney. Call the law office of Janet Altschuler in Tucson at (520) 247-1789 to discuss your case.