When people hear the word ‘crime,’ they often imagine physical violence, theft, or some other nasty encounter that takes place on the streets. While this is indeed what a lot of crime looks like, there’s another type of illegal activity that can be equally nefarious: white-collar crime. This type of nonviolent criminal activity is a near-constant problem in the United States and around the world.
White-Collar Crime: A Basic Definition
White-collar crime refers to any nonviolent criminal activity that’s meant to bring financial gain for the perpetrator. It typically occurs in offices rather than out on the streets, hence the name’s allusion to white-collar professions. These types of offenses usually involve the use of deceit or a violation of trust to obtain a financial advantage.
Types of White-Collar Crime
Many different offenses fall under the category of white-collar crime. What they all share is a pecuniary motive and a lack of physical violence.
Sometimes, entire corporations will engage in corrupt practices for the benefit of shareholders. These crimes are generally bundled together into the category of corporate fraud. In most cases of corporate fraud, bad actors use deceitful accounting practices to inflate the perceived value of a company. Individuals can also engage in corporate fraud through self-dealing and insider trading, illegal investment practices based on the improper use of confidential information.
When criminals want to hide the illegal origins of their income, they often pass their money through a fake, shadow enterprise to make the earnings seem legitimate. This process is popularly termed ‘money laundering’ since the “dirty” money comes out appearing “clean.”
Individuals and organizations sometimes defraud investors by misusing funds or sharing inaccurate or incomplete information. White-collar criminals sometimes misrepresent the risks involved in high-yield investments to obtain more clients. In what is commonly known as a Ponzi scheme, fraudulent investment managers misuse investor funds while relying on new clients to keep the sham funded. These schemes often fail spectacularly when the money coming in is no longer enough to pay off earlier clients.
Famous Examples of White-Collar Crime
History provides us with some infamous examples of white-collar criminals. These individuals might never have laid hands on another person, but they caused real personal and financial damage.
Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi Scheme
For many years, Bernie Madoff was considered one of the most successful financiers in the world. Then, the news broke that he had been defrauding his clients all along. Over 17 years, he made off with tens of billions of dollars. After costing many of his clients their entire savings, Madoff died in prison where he was serving a 150-year sentence.
Michael Milken’s Securities Fraud
After his high-yield bond trading made him the recognized “junk bond king,” Michael Milken spent two years in prison for securities fraud. He has since mended his reputation through decades of philanthropic work.
Need a Lawyer in Utah? Contact Esplin | Weight
If you’re in Utah and need a lawyer for white-collar crime or any other legal issue, Esplin | Weight can provide the services you need. With years of experience and a steadfast commitment to helping our clients, we’re ideally placed to help you out of a jam. Contact us today so we can start working toward a lasting solution that makes the best of your situation.