It’s no secret that white-collar crimes are one of the more misunderstood types of crime as far as the general public is concerned. We tend to view these crimes as less serious than they are, if we recognize them at all.
However, these types of crimes are not victimless and are still very much punishable under the law. To better help readers understand the nature of white-collar crimes, join us as we outline some of the most common types of white collar crimes below.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help with cases of this nature, keep reading here. We also encourage you to check out our other practice areas if you face any other charges or are concerned you might in the future.
At its simplest form, corporate fraud is fraud committed by a corporation or business entity. It is one of the most rampant kinds of white-collar crime, with the FBI noting corporate fraud is one of their highest criminal priorities.
The most common form of corporate fraud is when entities hide their true financial condition. These sorts of schemes are most often done in order to trick investors, auditors, and analysts in order to achieve some financial benefit.
It’s important to realize these sorts of crimes don’t only affect those with money to lose. They can sometimes cause massive, unexpected shifts in the economy, especially once the scheme is discovered.
Businesses have gone bankrupt and 401(k)s ruined, either by corporate fraud or the aftermath of its discovery. Corporate fraud has been estimated to cost hundreds of billions of dollars each year.
When this type of fraud does occur, who to blame will vary by the incident. In some cases, it can be a grand, near corporate-wide conspiracy. In others, it might be one or a small handful of individuals perpetrating the fraud.
Another of the common crimes that fall under the white-collar umbrella is money laundering. While it can be a bit confusing at first, it is actually relatively simple in concept.
If someone makes money committing a crime or otherwise comes into possession of money not legally earned, it is difficult to use. Significant purchases often have checks in place to prevent the use of illegal funds.
When criminals want to purchase homes, cars, or other things of significant value, the government is going to notice if they try to use these “dirty” funds. The money must first be “cleaned” through money laundering.
The basic principle of money laundering is finding ways to convert “dirty” money into “clean” money. This laundering process makes it far harder for the government to detect illegitimate funds.
This is often done through fronts. These are businesses meant to seem legitimate, but through which illegal funds are funneled into the “normal” economy without attracting government attention.
Simply put, money laundering empowers criminals at all levels to commit more crime. These crimes feed drug cartels, various mafia organizations, and more, giving them access to more wealth and power.
Identity Theft / Identity Fraud
Identity theft and, through that theft, identity fraud are two interlinked crimes that have become very common in this age of computers and the Internet.
Identity theft covers a wide variety of criminal acts meant to steal enough details from a person in order to impersonate them. This can include getting your name, birthday, social security number, usernames, passwords, and more.
Unfortunately, getting only some of this information often makes it easier to get the rest. For example, gaining access to someone’s email tends to make getting access to other accounts in their name a pretty simple process.
With the right information in hand, a person can then impersonate their victim. This can be as simple as using their credit card to make online purchases or as complex as taking out loans to buy boats or even houses.
Unlike the other types of crimes we’ve discussed so far, the victims in the case of identity fraud tend to be obvious. These crimes can cause immense financial hardship and might take weeks or months to resolve even once discovered.
49 million consumers are estimated to have been victims of identity fraud in 2023. If you’re unfamiliar with the common attacks used to commit these crimes, we very much recommend researching how to defend yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft.
Securities and Commodities Fraud
Securities and commodities fraud is a category of white-collar crime that is important to acknowledge but also complex enough to arguably warrant its own article. That said, we will give a brief review here.
First, understand that a commonplace people invest is in the U.S. securities and commodities markets. This can be done through individual brokerage accounts, college savings plans, or retirement accounts.
As this type of investing becomes more common, the incentive to commit fraud in these markets increases. This fraud can take many forms, including:
- Commodities fraud
- Promissory note fraud
- Investment fraud
- Market manipulation
- Broker embezzlement
One of the most commonly understood examples of this type of fraud are Ponzi schemes. These are schemes that promise big returns to investors for themselves, getting new investors to invest in the scheme.
The common thread among the many types of securities and commodities fraud is that an individual or small group profits at the expense of other investors. They do this through deceit and subverting various economic regulations.
Facing Charges for White Collar Crimes?
White-collar crimes are serious and, if you stand accused of one, you’re going to want a competent criminal attorney specializing in that field to help you. The gravity of these types of charges should not be underestimated.