Both the state and federal government classify certain crimes as white collar crimes. It can be a serious matter if law enforcement makes you a target of an investigation involving one of these offenses. If convicted, you could serve time in prison and pay hefty fines.
What makes white collar crime so serious that some people go away to prison for a long time? As the FBI explains, this category of crime may not involve the use of physical force or threats, but it still does serious harm to victims and ruins lives.
How white collar crime works
White collar crime refers to a variety of offenses that involve fraud. Perpetrators generally will engage in a simple or complicated scheme to defraud people of services, property or money. Fraudsters may completely misrepresent themselves or they may just conceal important details that an innocent party should know before investing their money.
Regardless of the method used to defraud someone, the effect can be devastating. If you work at a business victimized by fraud, your workplace may have to close and you may lose your job. If you are an investor, you could lose a lot of money, perhaps your life savings, by investing in a company or service that turns out to be a scam.
Connections to other crimes
Sometimes perpetrators use fraud to hide the origin of money acquired from other criminal activities. Money laundering is a prime example. Some criminals such as drug dealers run money through different companies to conceal the fact that they got their money from selling illegal drugs. Some terrorists and child traffickers also engage in money laundering.
The complexity of white collar crime
There is a wide variety of white collar crimes. In addition to money laundering, the government prosecutes acts like bribery, forgery, extortion, healthcare fraud and corporate fraud. Additionally, there are different kinds of investment fraud such as Ponzi schemes and pyramid schemes.
White collar criminals also make their crimes hard to detect, which means law enforcement devotes as much effort as possible to detecting early signs of fraud and scams. Unfortunately, the complex nature of a fraud investigation may sweep up innocent parties who have to deal with white collar criminal charges.