What Is “White Collar Crime”?
“White collar crime” is part of everyday legal parlance but not everybody is sure what it includes, or where the term comes from. The phrase “White Collar Crime” was first coined in 1939 by Edwin Sutherland in a presentation on business-related crime. Sutherland, a sociologist by trade, addressed a distinction between traditional “blue collar crime” – burglary, robbery, assault, sex offenses, etc. – and crimes committed by businessmen not typically viewed as criminals. “Crime in relation to business” was something he sought to view as separate and distinct from other more common crimes.
From there, the “white collar crime” term took off and is now associated with a vast array of financial crimes, usually involving fraud of some type. State and federal agencies including the FBI aggressively prosecute white collar crimes in Florida and across the United States.
5 common examples of white collar crime include:
- Bank Fraud. In bank fraud cases, the victim is the bank or financial institution. These cases can involve misrepresentations of financial assets on applications for loans or credit, wire fraud, forged or stolen checks, or other methods of fraudulently moving bank funds – usually with the bank facing a loss.
- Corporate Fraud. This can involve a vast array of fraudulent activity. False accounting activities, falsification of business records, misrepresentation of profits and losses, and other deceptive tactics can lead to allegations of corporate fraud. Misuse of corporate funds or property for personal gain also occurs often and falls within this category. In these cases, it is important to investigate all facts to distinguish fact-based allegations from personal accusations from a dissatisfied business associate.
- Securities Fraud. This tends to include allegations of insider trading and misrepresentation of corporate assets and liabilities to investors. Insider trading typically occurs when someone within the company – or with close connections to the company – sells or purchases stock based on information not yet available to other stockholders. This type of activity can catch the attention of the FBI, Department of Justice, and SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission), which can cause serious problems for those accused (even if innocent).
- Tax Fraud. Falsified or misleading tax returns, concealed assets, illegally transferred property, and other maneuvers can lead to allegations of tax fraud, and investigation by the IRS and even the FBI. In some cases, the tax fraud schemes are obvious. In others, the allegations may be related to a bookkeeping mistake or other activity that was not intended to mislead or defraud. Due to the serious consequences of tax fraud and evasion, those accused should retain a skilled tax fraud defense attorney as soon as they are investigated.
- Embezzlement. This involves the improper conversion of funds from a business, client, or other source to which the funds properly belonged. Embezzlement is commonly thought of stealing money from an employer, but can also include the employer’s use of company funds for personal use, or wrongful taking of funds from a client account by a trustee or attorney.
Any of these “white collar” crimes can lead to serious allegations with severe criminal penalties – including prison time, fines, and restitution. These charges can also lead to long-lasting problems in your professional career and personal life. If you are being charged or even investigated, you need to consult with an attorney that is experienced in this area for proper guidance.
Our Tampa Criminal Defense Law Firm Can Build Your Defense in a White Collar Crime Case
Many allegations of “white collar” criminal conduct can stem from disagreements among business associates, bookkeeping errors, or other explainable situations. If you or your business are being investigated for any type of alleged fraud or improper financial dealings, talk to our Tampa white collar crime attorneys at Trombley & Hanes. We can review all facts and allegations, review your business records, and help you build a vigorous defense against any and all allegations.