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What are white collar crimes?

The term "white collar crime" was coined in 1939 to describe offenses that use deceit, concealment and violation of trust to achieve financial gain. Criminal activity is typically conducted without violence or the threat of it.

White collar crimes are complex, and carry serious consequences if an accused person is convicted. More serious cases also garner attention from the FBI. Given what is at stake, when facing white collar criminal charges it is vital to seek advice and guidance from a skilled defense attorney.

The FBI has comprehensive information about white collar crimes, particularly ones that catch the attention of the federal government. Federal agencies that monitor illegal criminal activity of this type include the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.

Common types of white collar crimes include:

  • Fraud - a range of offenses, such as insider trading, corporate fraud, ponzi schemes, health care fraud, telemarketing fraud and mortgage fraud
  • Embezzlement - improperly taking money from someone to whom you owe a specific duty, such as siphoning money from your employer or using client funds inappropriately
  • Identity theft - Illegally assuming another person's identity for financial gain, including producing fake IDs, forging checks, online financial theft and using someone else's health insurance
  • Extortion - Obtaining money, property or services from an individual or company through coercion or some type of threat, such as through blackmail
  • Money laundering - Usually occurs along with another type of crime, and functions as a way to filter illegally-obtained money through various channels to make funds appear legal

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