Has someone you know been charged with a white collar crime?
In the midst of America’s 2008 financial collapse, when the nation was still reeling, Bernie Madoff was convicted of perpetrating the largest Ponzi scheme ever; defrauding the investors of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC of 65 billion dollars.
He and his accountant were caught when he told his sons what he was doing. They turned him in. That year, many high level white collar crimes that had gone undetected and unreported were revealed to the general public. White collar crime had gone public in a new way.
What is White Collar crime?
The term white collar crime was coined by a sociologist named Edwin Sutherland in 1939. He called it a “crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation.”
Although not a technical term, today we call any non-violent crime committed in commercial situations for financial gain a white collar crime. A non-exclusive list of white collar crimes would include:
- Bankruptcy fraud
- Computer and Internet fraud
- Credit card fraud
- Economic espionage and trade secret theft
- Environmental law violations
- Financial institution fraud
- Government fraud
- Healthcare fraud
- Insider trading
- Insurance fraud
- Intellectual property theft / piracy
- Mail fraud
- Money laundering
- Securities fraud
- Tax evasion
- Wire fraud
- Antitrust violations
How is White Collar Crime Prosecuted?
White collar crime is particularly hard to detect. Many white collar criminals conceal their crime through series of complex financial transactions. In this case, whistle-blowers from inside companies committing financial crime have been helpful to investigators.
Typically, law enforcement agencies will make their cases against an individual, but the federal government has the power to sanction entire corporations for white collar crime. There are both state and federal legislation outlining what types of activities constitute white collar crime and several federal agencies – the FBI, IRS, Secret Service, U.S. Customs, Environmental Protection Agency and the Securities Exchange Commission – are part of enforcing federal white collar crime laws. Most states also have their own agencies to enforce state white collar crime laws.
White Collar Crime Penalties
Penalties for white collar crimes are wide-ranging and can be lessened if the defendant takes responsibility for the crime and assists in the investigation.
Penalties can include: fines, home detention, community confinement, paying the cost of prosecution, forfeitures, restitution, supervised release, and imprisonment. Bernie Madoff got sentenced to 150 years in prison and $170 billion in restitution.
Whom Does It Affect?
The FBI reports that white collar crime is estimated to cost the U.S. $300 billion every year. Less easy to calculate are the non-monetary costs associated with some types of crimes. The Labor Department reports 56,000 annual deaths on the job from occupationally induced illnesses – some because companies willfully violate or ignore worker safety laws.
The tax on the environment because of companies’ repeated EPA violations is likely incalculable, to name a few other aspects of this type of crime. However, white collar crime can, and does, affect individuals as well. As an investor, you can be defrauded of your hard-earned money by a variety of schemes known as securities fraud.
Contact An Experienced White Collar Crime Attorney
If you have been charged with a white collar crime, it is critical that you seek the legal advice of an experienced defense attorney that has a proven record. Please contact my office today.
Let’s start fighting for your rights.