You’ve probably heard of a few major “white collar” criminals in the media, such as Martha Stewart and Jordan Belfort. For many, white-collar crime has a reputation for being the least serious type of crime and is often synonymous with well-heeled defendants who commit minor corporate infractions and, at worst, might have to spend a few months in a minimum-security prison. However, this is not the case in reality.
White-collar crime encompasses the full range of fraud committed by business and government professionals. These types of crimes are characterized by deceit, concealment, or violation of trust, even though they are not dependent on the application or threat of physical violence. The motivation behind white-collar crimes is largely financial—to obtain or avoid losing money, property, or services or to secure a personal or business advantage.
Generally speaking, white-collar crime encompasses any financially motivated crime committed by individuals, businesses, or government entities that use deceptive practices for financial gain. As such, this umbrella term includes a wide range of actions and behaviors. Some of the of white-collar crime include:
A person commits the crime of fraud when he or she misrepresents facts in order to gain something in return. The crime of fraud requires four elements:
is the buying or selling of a security by someone who has access to material nonpublic information about the security. This often includes employees and top-level executives who work at the company represented by the security. Insider trading can be illegal or legal depending on when the insider makes the trade. It is illegal when the material information is still nonpublic. However, it can be legal when directors of the company purchase or sell shares, but they disclose their transactions legally.
Bribery occurs when a person uses something of value to tempt or influence someone to act in a specific way, to make certain decisions, or to express certain opinions. This is most commonly seen in one person offering to pay money to another person, who is in a position of authority, for the purpose of persuading him to do something, or to refrain from doing something. Offering bribes and accepting bribes are both illegal.
Forgery is the altering, making, possession, or use of falsified documents (such as checks, contracts, or wills) with the intent to defraud or injure the recipient of the document. People who commit forgery are also often charged with fraud. One of the most common types of forgery is signing someone else’s name to a check.