What is White Collar Crime?

Defining white collar crime versus street crime might be a matter of semantics, but the biggest difference is that white collar crime is a traditionally non-violent crime. Street crime, on the other hand, may have a violent element or component to the crime in some cases.

When it comes to differentiating these crimes further, crime data indicate clear trends regarding criminals’ race, gender, education level, and even socioeconomic class.

One should not think that white collar crime is, therefore, a victimless crime simply because it did not take place in public or lacked a violent aspect. According to Steven Adams, a white collar crimes lawyer in Cincinnati, “white collar crime can devastate lives, send entire companies out of business, cost hundreds and thousands of jobs, and rob people of their hard-earned savings.“

First, the term “white-collar” was first coined back in 1939. Now, that term has become a broad scope term to cover any number of fraud and theft that is committed by businesses, professionals, and government officials. According to the FBI, white-collar crime scams have become more sophisticated than they ever have been.

Take insider trading, for instance. Insider trading takes place when someone with insider knowledge regarding a company – for good or for ill – tells someone involved in stock trading information that will either cause stock prices to rise or fall. This allows the investor – or the stockbroker – to buy or sell and either save themselves from a devastating loss or reap huge financial gains. People who break insider trading laws often feel that it is a victimless crime.

What crimes are actually considered white collar? Read on to find out.

Check Fraud

This white collar crime can run the gamut from repeatedly writing bad checks to fraudulently obtaining a company’s or an individual’s account information to obtain funds or to take over assets. When it comes to businesses, especially large companies, many payments made to vendors and such go through a high-speed processor. Smaller amounts go unnoticed.

Money Laundering

Here is where white collar crime and street crime meet, shake hands, and do one another favors. Money gained from illicit enterprises like drug trafficking must be “cleansed” and the best way to do that is to deposit the money into the banking system. However, laws have gotten stricter and require financial institutions to report deposits greater than $10,000. So, criminals will deposit smaller amounts in different banks and at different times. Online bank accounts and debit cards such as GreenDot cards are easy ways to get illicit money into the system and have it come back clean.

White collar crime encompasses many more crimes than those listed here. If you have been accused of a white collar crime, you will need an experienced attorney to help you navigate the difficult waters ahead.