White collar crime is a broad legal term that encompasses various types of criminal offenses that are non-violent in nature, and usually involve fraud and illegal business or financial transactions. Bank fraud, credit card fraud, social security fraud, identity theft, money laundering, counterfeiting, insider trading, identity theft and forgery are examples of white collar crimes. These crimes are prosecuted seriously by federal and state attorneys.
By way of background, Edwin Sutherland, a notable sociologist, first coined the term, “white collar crime” in 1939 when he argued that there must be significant differences between crimes like burglary, robbery and murder, which he categorized as blue collar crimes and the ones he categorized as white collar ones, such as fraud. Sutherland went further saying that white collar crimes are more injurious to the society than their blue collar counterparts, and that white collar offenders are treated with more lenience.
Some examples of “white collar crimes” are: access device fraud, bank fraud, blackmail, bribery, cellular phone fraud, computer/Internet fraud, counterfeiting and forgery (not only currency but also certificates, documents of authenticity, licensing documents, identity, contractual agreements, etc.), credit card fraud, futures speculation schemes, copyright infringements, embezzlement, environmental regulation violations, extortion, fraud involving the health care industry, insider trading, insurance fraud, investment schemes, money laundering, securities fraud, tax fraud and evasion, telemarketing schemes, fraud involving illegal attainment of government services or benefits, bait and switch schemes, price fixing, false advertising, improper weights and measures for marketable goods, etc. This is by no means an exhaustive list of all of the conduct that could be characterized as “white collar crime.
In other words, due to the simplicity of the wire and mail fraud statutes and because of the fact that oftentimes prosecutors are unable to identify violations of more specific statutes, the prosecutors simply rely on their “sweetheart” statutes, Mail or Wire Fraud. The prosecutors twist the facts in an attempt to satisfy the elements of the Mail or Wire Fraud statutes.
If you have been charged with Mail or Wire Fraud, or conspiracy to commit mail or wire fraud (which carries the same penalty as Mail or Wire Fraud), you are facing very serious charges. The author HIGHLY recommends that you obtain COMPETENT legal counsel IMMEDIATELY. If you anticipate that you may face Mail or Fraud charges, or conspiracy to commit Mail or Wire Fraud charges, the author recommends that you obtain COMPETENT legal counsel AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. If you are aware that you or your company is being investigated as a result of your business activities, the author recommends that you obtain COMPETENT legal counsel AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
Competent legal counsel is very important from the moment that you realize you may be the subject of an investigation for any conduct that may constitute “white collar crime.” Often, legitimate business people find themselves prosecuted for unintentionally making false statements to investigators (just ask Martha Stewart), or for other unintentional actions that can be construed as an attempt to obstruct justice. The risk of such prosecution necessitates the acquisition of legal counsel as soon as possible.