When you hear the term “white collar crime,” what do you immediately think of? Guys in expensive suits stealing millions of dollars from their companies in their high-rise office buildings? This is one way Hollywood likes to portray white collar crimes, and the truth is it’s not really that far off.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation defines a “white collar crime” as “those illegal acts which are characterized by deceit, concealment, or violation of trust and which are not dependent upon the application or threat of physical force or violence.” While this does not list a specific sociological classification for the perpetrators, other sources have designated that the perpetrators are usually people of high socioeconomic status and often in positions of trust.
But perhaps the easiest definition of a white collar crime is some form of high-level corporate fraud. The best-remembered recent example of white-collar crime was the Enron scandal, uncovered in 2001, which used practices of accounting and market fraud to steal millions of dollars from investors.
The following are just a few examples of what could be considered white collar crimes:
Bankruptcy is a valuable tool for honest individuals who cannot get out of overwhelming debt due to a number of protections from creditors. However, it has also been abused by individuals looking to simply avoid repaying their debts or prolong their schemes.
According to the FBI, bankruptcy fraud is often times committed alongside other forms of fraud, such as credit card fraud, identity theft, and mortgage fraud. This way, individuals can hide money earned through illegal means and then no longer have to pay it back to their debtors.
Money laundering is the process of taking financial gains from criminal proceedings and converting them into goods and services. In other words, money laundering is using money knowingly gained from criminal actions. By putting this financial capital into the commerce stream, offenders can be much harder to convict since they no longer have the evidence with them. However, investigators can specialize in tracking the unique paper trail of various forms of funds in order to gather evidence.
Identity theft is a rapidly-growing form of white collar crime that has seen a rise in cohesion with widespread Internet use. To put it simply, identity theft is illegally obtaining another person’s personal information with the intent to defraud them. Information such as addresses, social security numbers, mothers’ maiden names, driver’s license numbers, credit card information, and more can be stolen and used by offenders, and new identity and information scams are created nearly every single day.
Also called “collusion,” price fixing is the collaboration of one or more groups of people to increase profits by fixing the price of a good or service far above actual market value. This is often done on a very high level in major corporations in order to influence the market on a large product. One famous example is the LCD panel scandal uncovered in 2006 in which executives from AU Optronics Corporation met with its competitors and agreed to fix the prices of their LCD panels they sold to electronics manufacturers in order to increase profits. More recently, big oil companies have been probed under suspicion of price fixing in relation to a sudden, sharp rise in fuel prices.
Sico, Hoelscher, Harris & Braugh, L.L.P. is a professional law firm specializing in personal injury and commercial litigation cases on a national level. Their track record features several landmark decisions, including the single largest verdict in U.S. history, the only successful tire recall against Firestone, and the single largest recovery in Texas state history. They have offices in Houston, TX, Corpus Christi, Tx, and Pasadena, CA, and can fight for you no matter where you may live in the United States.If you have been a victim of corporate fraud or another white collar crime, civil damages can be possible. Contact Sico, Hoelscher, Harris & Braugh L.L.P. online or call them at (877) 631-9965 for a free case evaluation today.