White collar crime refers to various types of nonviolent and financially-motivated illegal acts. These range from minor crimes like wage theft and copyright infringement done by individuals, all the way to large-scale embezzlement and billion-dollar Ponzi schemes.
Depending on the severity, these crimes can land the white collar criminal in federal prison for anywhere from months to decades. With modern technology making access to personal information easier to obtain, white collar crimes are becoming more sophisticated than ever. Therefore, a white collar crime lawyer must be equally experienced and knowledgeable about defending against the often aggressive government agencies that prosecute these cases.
Types of White-Collar Crime
Check fraud is a type of crime where a criminal uses a paper or digital check to receive funds they do not legally possess. Generally, check fraud involves taking advantage of the float, or the time between issuing and cashing the check.
There are many examples of check fraud. A check kiter, for example, might write himself a check for $1000 from his empty bank account and cash it at another financial institution—thus profiting $1000.
Identity theft represents the category of crimes where someone acquires someone else’s personal information without their consent, using it to commit fraud.
Highly common in the United States, the scams of white collar criminals usually involve taking a person’s ID, Social Security number, or credit card information.
Typical identity theft schemes allow perpetrators to open bank accounts, apply for loans, or make charges to credit cards in the victim’s name. Often the victim remains unaware of the identity theft for an extended period of time, resulting in a ruined credit score and vast accumulated debt.
Money laundering is a crime in which the criminal receives funds from illegal sources and distributes them through a source designed to appear legitimate. A classic example of this is the trope of the Mafia boss who owns a sanitation company—to the public and the IRS, his wealth comes from running garbage trucks rather than mob activities.
Money launderers will generally have a business in trade or real estate to disguise the funds’ origin from anti-money laundering investigation. They will place the funds into the financial system and then separate them from their source with a complicated series of transactions. After this is done, they will withdraw the funds as a salary or payout to themselves.
A relatively new field of law, computer or internet fraud is a rapidly expanding type of white collar crime. More advanced digital white-collar criminals have become adept at covering their tracks, using proxies and other technologies to hide their online activities.
Many forms of computer fraud overlap with conventional white collar criminals but simply take place online. Some common forms include:
- Online identity theft
- Copyright Infringement
- Auction fraud
A type of identity fraud, phishing is the use of text, email, or phone calls to lure individuals into giving a scammer their personal information. A phishing scammer may claim to represent a trusted institution (for instance, a bank) and make false claims about the need for the victim to provide personal data.
Often, phishing scams involve sending vast amounts of emails or other communications, hoping that a few people may fall prey to the fraud. They will often tell a story or use other emotional tactics to get the individual to click a link, download an attachment, or give out their password or credit card number.
Criminal Defense with a White Collar Crime Lawyer
If convicted of white collar crimes, the penalties can be severe. Therefore, seeking an experienced white collar crime lawyer from a criminal defense law firm is essential if you are under investigation or charged with white collar crimes.
Attorneys can provide assistance to those accused, even finding resolution in cases before the dispute rises to judge or jury trials. Criminal defense law firms often have specialty practice areas in certain financial crimes, like insider trading, tax evasion, healthcare fraud, or securities fraud.
Finding a White Collar Crime Lawyer
The Martinez Firm specializes in criminal defense for individuals accused of theft or embezzlement. Contact us today, and let our team of white collar crime lawyers use our extensive knowledge of relevant court statutes and criminal law to help prevent a conviction.