Have you ever heard the term
white collar crime? It was coined back in 1939 and according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation
(FBI), it means lying, cheating, and stealing – that’s white
collar crime in a nutshell, says the FBI.
White collar crime refers to nonviolent financially motivated crimes. Many white collar crimes
and fraudulent schemes are committed by “white collar” professionals
or by people who work for a government agency, but not all of them.
Some of the people who commit white collar crimes, such as counterfeiting
or identity theft do not wear a suit and tie to work as the term implies.
Although white collar crimes are not violent by nature, they are not victimless
crimes. Some fraudulent schemes can ruin a person’s credit, and
some of the schemes can defraud investors of millions, while others can
wipe out a family’s entire life savings.
Often, white collar crimes
are committed by educated professionals who are in a position of influence
and power, and due to the complex nature of some crimes, the crimes themselves
can be difficult for government agencies to crack.
Common examples of white collar crime, include:
White collar crimes, especially those committed by professionals often
involve a series of sophisticated, highly complex transactions. Because
of their complex nature, whistleblowers can be very helpful to the government
agencies that investigate and prosecute the internal crimes committed
within some of America’s largest companies.
Just some of the government agencies involved in investigation such corruption
include the FBI, the SEC, and the IRS. Are all white collar crimes prosecuted
on the federal level? Not necessarily. White collar crimes are criminalized
and prosecuted under both state and federal legislation, with the penalties
generally being stiffer is prosecuted in the federal court system.
Identity theft for example, is illegal under both state and federal law.
As a state offense, the “criminal use of personal identification
information” is criminalized under Sec. 817.568. So, in Florida,
identity theft can be prosecuted as a felony of the third degree, punishable by up to
5 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $5,000.
On the federal level, identity theft is criminalized under
18 U.S. Code Sec. 1028. The punishment for identity theft under the federal statute is a fine and
up to 20 years in prison depending on the facts of the case.
If a Florida resident is facing identity theft charges, which are illegal
under both state and federal law, the state and federal prosecutors will
decide whether the defendant should be prosecuted in state or federal court.
If the facts of the case are serious enough or involve a large amount of
money, there is a strong possibility that the defendant will be prosecuted
in federal court. White collar crimes are often committed by:
- Doctors (insurance fraud)
- Fund managers
- Corporate executives
- Business managers
- Loan officers
- Many more professionals
One of the most notorious white collar criminals is Bernard Madoff, whose
massive fraud scheme cost investors $65 billion. After Madoff’s
elaborate Ponzi scheme led to his arrest, he was convicted in 2009 and
sentenced to 150 years in federal prison.
In Madoff’s particular scheme, he promised investors large returns
on their investments. What he was actually doing was using the money from
new investors to pay older investors, instead of investing the funds as promised.
Eventually, angered investors demanded their money back, and Madoff did
not have the capital to repay them, which led to the discovery of his
elaborate scheme and a one-way trip to federal prison.
Are you being accused of committing white collar crime?
If you are being accused of committing a white collar crime in Tampa, you
could be facing state or federal charges. Due to the severity of your
situation, you NEED a defense attorney who handles state and federal criminal defense.
Call Thomas & Paulk, P.A. to work with a team of
former prosecutors who practice in the
state and federal courts!