White-collar crimes are non-violent offenses committed for financial gain. They generally involve fraud, misrepresentation and/or misuse of computer and communications technology. Investigations of suspected crimes are typically wide-ranging and may implicate a host of individuals at private or public organizations, from administrative assistants to executives and directors. Depending on the situation, white collar criminal charges can be filed in federal or state court or possibly both, and penalties for conviction can include long prison sentences and heavy fines.
These are the five most common white collar offenses prosecuted by federal and state law enforcement authorities:
- Embezzlement — This crime occurs when a person steals money over which they have responsibility but which does not belong to them. Embezzlement often occurs in the context of an employee taking company money or assets for their own personal gain. For example, a business comptroller skims funds from a corporate account and uses the money himself. Penalties for conviction often include making restitution of amounts stolen, in addition to paying fines and serving time in jail.
- Money laundering — It is unlawful to make illegally obtained money seem legitimate by knowingly concealing its origins, such as through bank deposits, transfers and other complex transactions. In South Carolina, a money laundering conviction can carry a sentence of up to 25 years in prison, plus fines of up to $250,000 or double the value of the money laundered, whichever is greater.
- Bank fraud and mortgage fraud — These crimes consist of schemes to defraud financial institutions out of money, property or other assets. Forms of bank fraud include forgery, obtaining credit using falsified documents, check kiting, wire transfer fraud and more. Mortgage fraud can involve illegal property flips, foreclosure schemes, equity skimming and other transactions.
- Identity theft and other cybercrimes — Credit reporting company Experian says identity theft affects one in 20 Americans each year, causing nearly $17 billion in losses in 2019 alone. Such theft is often accomplished by cyber tactics such as phishing, pharming and deploying malware or viruses to steal information. Other cybercrimes include hacking, child pornography, online piracy and online solicitation.
- Insurance fraud — It is a crime to make a false claim or representation to an insurer or its agent for financial gain. Medicare fraud is one of the most common forms of insurance fraud. Also ranking high on the list, according the FBI, is premium diversion, which occurs when an insurance agent does not send premiums to the policy underwriter and instead keeps the money for themselves.
If you are under investigation or have been arrested for any white collar crime, you should act quickly to retain experienced defense counsel. Jack B. Swerling, Attorney at Law provides effective defense for individuals facing federal and state criminal charges. I offer a free initial consultation. Call my Columbia office at 800-701-0599 or contact me online today.