White collar crimes are a certain type of theft. Although they are generally financial and non-violent in nature, the penalties for a white collar crime can be surprisingly harsh. Depending on the amount of defrauded assets, a defendant may be facing more imprisonment than one accused of a weapons or aggravated crime.
Broadly speaking, white collar crimes often involve an intentional misrepresentation for personal or financial gain. There are many forms that financial fraud can take, including bankruptcy fraud, computer and Internet crimes, identity theft, mail and wire fraud, bank or mortgage fraud, money laundering, or racketeering. Each of these fraudulent activities is classified as a federal criminal offense, punishable by imprisonment and penalties.
In a recent example, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the New York Attorney General's office filed a complaint against RD Legal Funding, a New Jersey-based hedge fund company. The company reportedly promised an up-front advance to its clients, many of who were awaiting payments from settlements. In exchange for that quick convenience, the company allegedly charged unlawfully high interest rates and fees. Authorities claim this behavior was deceptive and abusive, and consequently in violation of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
White collar crimes are also investigated differently than other types of theft. Many white collar criminal investigations are begun months in advance of any contact with the suspect. A suspect’s first knowledge of the investigation may be when authorities show up at his or her office with a warrant to search the premises. This means that a defendant will have to scramble to catch up to the case that authorities have been preparing against him or her. With an experienced attorney’s help, however, those odds can be evened.
Source: Associated Press, “Company accused of scamming 9/11, NFL concussion victims,” Ken Sweet, Feb. 7, 2016