At The Iyer Law Office in Denver, we are often asked, what are white collar crimes? Basically, they are financial crimes. If you are charged with a white collar crime, you will need an experienced criminal defense attorney to defend you. White collar crimes carry very serious punishments that could affect the rest of your life.
White collar crimes include offenses that involve some kind of improper financial gain, usually, that involve a fraudulent scam or activity with a business, business transactions or government functions. They are usually committed by business professional and government employees and are non-violent.
Penalties For a White-Collar Crimes
The penalties for a white-collar crime include imprisonment, fines, and restitution, community service, return of any profits and financial gain received from the crime, probation, and home detention with a supervised release.
Some examples are fraud, misrepresentation, embezzlement, tax evasion, money laundering, and bribery, among others.
This often involves financial transactions in a business or corporation and includes a deception for some monetary gain.
- Health care fraud is when false or misleading information is submitted to an insurance company to get benefits and reimbursements.
- Wire fraud happens when people use devices such as telephones, cell phones, fax machines, instant messages, and e-mail to contact their victims using deceitful behavior to get financial gain.
- Insurance fraud is when someone deceives or defrauds an insurance company in order to get money.
- Consumer fraud is a seller or advertiser of merchandise who lies to consumers about services or goods.
- Computer fraud involves the use of computers to deliberately defraud or misrepresent information in order to get something of value, usually money.
- Securities Fraud is a scheme to defraud, make untrue statements, or fail to make a statement that deceives investors involving the sale of a security. Thefts from manipulation of the market and theft from securities accounts also fall under securities fraud. For example, insider trading is when someone uses inside confidential information about a company’s investments trades or shares that confidential information in violation of their duty to the company.
- Bankruptcy Fraud is committed when someone lies and misrepresents to creditors about the assets and debts that they have in order to avoid paying or to protect their assets in a bankruptcy case. Usually, this is a civil matter but it can become criminal if the fraud is serious.
- Bank Fraud is a fraud against a bank institution, including fraudulent checks, commercial loan fraud, mortgage fraud, use and deposit counterfeit money, and other financial misrepresentation upon the bank for a financial gain. One of the most common is check fraud which involves fake, forged or deceptive checks used by persons seeking to make purchases, obtain bank account funds, or finance transactions. However, businesses and organizations can also be charged with check fraud.
The Federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO)
This was intended to stop organized crime. A number of financial crimes are listed under RICO, including money laundering, counterfeiting, securities violations, as well as mail and wire fraud. The term racketeering means someone who uses extortion, loansharking, bribery, or obstruction of justice to aid their illegal activities, usually involving using some sort of authority or power to illegally persuade others to help them. For example, counterfeiting money is a making fake bills and coins. It is a federal felony and is investigated by the Secret Service.
Trade Secret Theft
This involves the stealing of trade secret information ( a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, or process) which is used to make that business different or give it a competitive edge and if exposed would cause the business to lose value.
This involves a false statement of fact that induces someone into a contract, for example, If someone makes an intentional misrepresentation so that the buyer enters into a contract to purchase. So, if someone knowingly misstates or misrepresents inside information about the company’s investments and finances, which causes investors to rely on the false and misleading information when making business and financial decisions.
This is when a person who has a fiduciary relationship over some type of property or money intentionally and improperly takes that money or property from that person for his or her financial gain and intends to keep it. For example, an employee entrusted with their company’s money takes it and uses it their own personal use.
This crime happens when a person or corporation knowingly and intentionally tries to avoid paying the taxes that they owe to the IRS by misrepresenting their income. It could include underreporting yearly income, inflating deductions, hiding taxable money, or transferring income to offshore accounts.
If money is laundered from illegal activities and made to look like it was from legal activities, that is money laundering. For example, if drug money is filtered into a legitimate business so that it appears like the business made this money, and not the sale of drugs. Money laundering became a crime in 1986.
The charge of bribery comes when someone offers, promises, or gives something of value, usually money or an expensive item, with the intent to wrongfully influence the action of a public official. The action sought must be related to the official’s public position. The public official must understand that by accepting the item of value, their vote, judgment, recommendation, opinion, or any other public act of discretion will be influenced. A public official is also guilty of bribery if they seek out, demand, receive, request, or agree to receive or request something of value, with the intent to use their public office as a means to get that item of value.
This crime involves the falsification of information on a form or document, most commonly copying of a person’s signature without their consent. This may include currency, stocks, wills, deeds or contracts. Forgery can either be a misdemeanor or felony.
Elements to Prove White Collar Crimes
In order to prove a white-collar crime, the prosecution needs to prove intent, disguise and concealment, knowledge, and reliance.
- Intent-The person committing the crime acts or commits a behavior with the knowledge that the act is unlawful and can be punishable by law.
- Disguise and Concealment-The hiding or concealing of the real purpose of the crime. For example, when the person committing the crime hides or conceals his crime with the goal of not getting caught.
- Knowledge-The person committing the crime must have known that he is committing the crime. For example, when they knowingly and intentionally commits the crime for a financial gain.
- Reliance-If the victim relied on the fraudulent scheme or act.
State or Federal Court Prosecution
Sometimes the district attorney’s office doesn’t have the resources to prosecute complicated white collar cases and so may need investigators and prosecutors with special expertise from the Colorado attorney general’s office.
Sometimes federal authorities will become involved if the case involves a large enough monetary loss. In that situation, the investigation and prosecution could be in federal court. Many white collar cases can be prosecuted in either federal court or state court. Some offenses are traditionally prosecuted in federal court are bank fraud, securities and commodities fraud, fraud cases involving federal funds, federal income tax offenses, procurement fraud involving federal contractors, and bribery involving federal officials as well as others. Sometimes the offenses have different names when prosecuted in federal court.
Federal White Collar Criminal Investigations
Many times, more than one law enforcement agency may investigate white collar offenses. The FBI investigates bank and mortgage fraud and other general frauds. The IRS investigates tax matters but also frequently helps other agencies like the FBI to investigate fraud. IRS is the lead in investigating money laundering offenses. The Department of Defense investigates mail fraud. Imported counterfeit goods cases are investigated by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency. If it involves the sale of securities and stocks, then the SEC and Attorney General’s office would usually investigate.
White-Collar Crime Defenses
There are several defenses that can be used for white collar crimes, including there was no intent and entrapment. There is no crime if it can be proven that there was no intent to commit the crime or the activity was not intentionally done for a personal and financial gain. In addition, if there was an intent to commit the crime but law enforcement officials coerced criminal activity, then there is no crime.
If you need more information about what are white collar crimes, or if you are being investigated or have been arrested for a white-collar crime, contact The Iyer Law Office legal team in Denver. Attorney Vee Iyer uses his experience as a former deputy district attorney to defend you in white collar crime cases. A conviction for these crimes can lead to serious consequences, including prison and heavy fines. In addition, if you are not a United States citizen, a white collar crime conviction could create immigration problems, including deportation. You need an attorney who can vigorously represent your interests.
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