While white collar crimes have a much lower conviction rate than homicides or theft, judges tend to acquit a wide range of high-level celebrities and political figures. These crimes, defined as financially motivated deceit that does not involve physical force or violence, typically encompass offenses pertaining to deceit and fraud on a large scale.
Several crimes fall under this broad umbrella of “white collar.” Here are the three most common.
1. Ponzi scheme
In 2019, North Dakota convicted a 22-year-old man with the orchestration of an $11.4 million Ponzi scheme in which he lured more than 60 investors into paying millions to a company that never actually existed.
One of the most common white collar crimes, Ponzi schemes ultimately pay the original investors with money from new investors, all under the guise of profit. These schemes remain afloat as long as new investors keep pouring money into the company.
Embezzlement occurs when one party removes or withholds assets from another party or parties without their knowledge. Most commonly, embezzlement charges arise when employers discover that employees have funneled money from company accounts.
3. Money laundering
Last year, a college admissions scandal made headlines when more than 50 people, including several well-known celebrities, pled guilty to bribery and money laundering. This laundered money funneled through the organizer’s nonprofit charity to inflate test scores and bribe college officials into admitting unqualified students.
Investigations of white collar crimes often involve financial record subpoenas, witness statements and document retrieval. A person may not know an investigation is underway until near its conclusion.