White collar crimes gets a lot of air time and attention in the news and media—mostly because they are often high-profile cases involving well-known or significant public figures. But do you really understand what white collar crime is? In this two-part blog we will seek to help you better understand this prominent  criminal legal subject and provide a detailed list of some of the various types of white collar crimes to help you avoid getting caught up in one of these crimes yourself.

The definitions of white collar crime vary, but the FBI defines it as, “those illegal acts which are characterized by deceit, concealment, or violation of trust and which are not dependent upon the application or threat of physical force or violence.” White collar crimes are usually motivated by financial gain and often occur in the business, professional, or governmental sectors. There is a misconception that only people of means, such as a business executive, can commit a white collar crime, but that is not a prerequisite.

Below we’ve detailed a considerable number of the expansive list of possible white collar crimes in the US to help you better understand what these crimes are.

Fraud – this is the most prevalent form of white collar crime and comes in all shapes and sizes. Fraud involves the purposeful deception of someone in order to achieve illegal gains for one’s self. It can be applied to numerous situations, such as bank fraud, credit card fraud, internet/mail fraud, tax fraud, healthcare fraud, or government contract fraud.

Blackmail – this crime involves forcing someone to meet your demands, usually financial consideration, by threatening to expose secrets or injurious information about them. It is a form of illegal coercion.

Bribery – this usually involves public officials or people in places of power, but can apply to any situation where you offer or receive something of value in exchange for a change in one’s behavior. For example, if you were to offer a congressman money to vote a certain way, that would constitute a bribe.

Embezzlement – the white collar crime of embezzlement is when a person who has control over funds that are not his or her own keeps any amount of those funds for themselves. One might be charged with embezzlement for funneling money out of an employer’s account and into their own.

Extortion – extortion is another form of illegal coercion. It involves taking money or property from someone through threat of force or other adverse action.

This is just a small cross-section of some of the most common white collar crimes. If you are found guilty of a white collar crime, then penalties will range in severity based on the seriousness of the crime, but you can certainly expect serious monetary fines and even extensive jail time. If you are charged with a white collar crime, please call the Whalen Law Office and let us go to work fighting for your rights. And don’t forget to check out Part II of this blog where we will detail even more potential white collar crimes that are commonly committed in the US.