The term white-collar crime is well known, but exactly what is it? Generally, it describes nonviolent crimes, those financially motivated and those that often use deceit to accomplish their crime. The most common perpetrators are those in a government or business setting. Penalties can range from community services, probation, incarceration and/or high fines to restitution. Before we discuss what the most common white-collar crimes in the United States are, let’s dig a little deeper.
White-collar crimes do not involve violence, but this does not lessen the seriousness of the crime. Point in case, both state and federal laws exists against white-collar crimes. This means a white-collar criminal can be tried twice for the same crime in the Minnesota – under state law and under federal law. If you find yourself charged or under investigation, understanding the different offenses, laws and potential penalties is important. Working with an experienced Minnesota white-collar crimes attorney is a good idea to receive the best representation possible.
Fraud – a very broad crime involving the use of deception for financial gain.
Stealing money from an employer is called embezzlement. The most common act of embezzlement is an employee transferring money into his or her own personal account. Another form of embezzlement is an employee hired to manage funds and they improperly use them.
When a person threatens, intimidates or forces another person for their own financial gain, they are committing extortion. The tactics used by the perpetrator can be threats of violence against you or loved ones, damage to your property or going to law enforcement. Using blackmail – threat of exposing a person’s private affairs publicly – is a threat of ruining your reputation is a form of extortion. Another common extortion criminal practice is “offering protection” for the perpetrator’s gain.
When a business or individual attempts to hide illegally obtained money – dirty money – this is called money laundering. Money is integrated with legally obtained funds by depositing it into an account, thereby separating it from the illegal source making it difficult to trace.
Scam, or the next best thing to invest in? People getting paid to find new investors versus earning profits is an illegal a Ponzi scheme. Their goal is to fool current investors into thinking the value of a business is on the rise and performing well – falsely inflating the value of the investment. Ponzi schemes sometimes start out as legitimate businesses, but when financial returns do not perform as expected, they become fraudulent.
Also known as stock fraud or investment fraud, securities fraud is based on buying or selling stocks, commodities or securities using false information; usually leading to big financial losses. Another form of securities fraud, is insider trading – a person buys or sells something resulting from information gained that is not available to the public.
A person attempting to avoid taxes that they are required to pay is tax evasion. For example, entering false information on a tax return or transferring property illegally are tax evasions. Anyone – businesses, individuals and trusts – can commit tax evasion.
Facing Tax Fraud – Three Important Rules
Choose an accountant carefully, and avoid hiring a personal – or any – accountant when under investigation for criminal tax fraud. There is no accountant-client privilege when it comes to a federal criminal investigation. IRS CID Special Agents can legally retrieve all records from an accountant, but under the shield of attorney-client privilege, an attorney can hire a Kovel accountant and protect all communications with that accountant.
Audits – be careful. Any, and all responses provided in civil audits can be used against you in criminal prosecutions.
Offers to pay once the IRS is seeking a criminal indictment, can be deemed as an admission of guilt and no amount of money will stop them and will be used against you in a court of law.
Penalties for white-collar crimes often depend on the value of property or money wrongfully taken, along with the person’s criminal history. Generally, the more money taken, the higher the fine paid and the more criminal time imposed.
For those found guilty of embezzling $500.00 to $1,000.00 could mean $3,000.00 in fines and up to one year in jail, or both. If the offense is over $35,000.00, prison time could be up to 20 years and fines could reach $100,000.00. For extortion convictions, jail time can be up to 20 years in prison and impose $10,000.00 in fines.
White-collar crimes are taken very seriously in Minnesota. To protect your business, and yourself, as soon as you learn you are under investigation or charged with the crime, you need to contact an experienced Minnesota white-collar crimes attorney.