White-collar crimes are nonviolent financial crimes. Edwin Sutherland, a sociologist and criminologist, coined the term in the late 1930s to describe crimes committed by people perceived to be of high social status.
Violation of trust, deceit, or concealment denotes such crimes, and perpetrators seek to gain financially from their actions. The majority of white-collar crimes are based on fraud or misappropriation.
Below are the various types of white-collar crimes that can put you in prison.
Money laundering, which was made illegal in 1986 through a legislative act, is a grave offense. This type of white-collar crime occurs where proceeds from unlawful activities are made to look legitimate by concealing their source. It originated in the 1920s from mobsters seeking to legitimize illegal earnings by channeling the funds through laundromat businesses.
It has since evolved to become more complex and sophisticated, especially in this digital age. Anyone convicted of the crime may face up to 20 years in jail and a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the amount in question, whichever is greater. If you’re charged with money laundering, you’re likely to be facing additional charges related to the source of your money.
Another example of white-collar crime is corporate fraud, often perpetrated by individuals at top-level executive positions of a company. Corporate fraud involves illegal activities meant to give undue advantage to a company and may take forms such as:
- Falsified accounting
- Misrepresentation of a company’s financial position through cooked books
- Insider trading or kickbacks
- Commission fraud
- Conducting illicit transactions to avoid regulatory oversight
Like other white-collar crimes, corporate fraud crimes attract severe penalties of up to 25 years in prison, in addition to heavy fines.
Securities and Commodities Fraud
These white-collar crimes are committed by misrepresenting information to potential investors, in a bid to influence their investment decisions. Such fraud can be carried out by an individual stockbroker or at a company level, through a brokerage firm or an investment bank.
Given the diversified investment options available for individuals in our modern society, cases of securities and commodities fraud have recently been on the rise.
Investment fraud involves promising investors high returns with little to no risk. The investment may be in the form of actual commodities, real estate, securities, and so on. Generally, investment fraud exploits the network of trust built over time by the perpetrator and their victims by misleading them into high yield investments with no potential losses.
Investment fraud include:
- Ponzi and pyramid schemes
- Advance fee fraud schemes
Based on exerting undue influence over penny stocks, market manipulation is meant to benefit the perpetrator financially. Pump and dump schemes, for instance, are a common market manipulation tactic used to defraud investors.
This kind of fraud entails falsely obtaining money by purporting to sell a commodity, usually goods sold over an exchange, with the sole aim of benefiting the perpetrator. The most common types of goods involved are foreign currency and precious metals.
Have You Been Charged with a White-Collar Crime?
If you have been charged with a white-collar crime, you need to take such charges very seriously. Considering that most of these crimes are federal offenses, you could be facing lengthy prison sentences and hefty fines.
Keeping in mind that federal prosecutors are very experienced and resourced, having the best federal criminal defense by your side to help you fight these charges is crucial. With a knowledgeable federal attorney, you stand better chances of a favorable outcome to your case, including lessening the charges against you or their complete dismissal.