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Commonly Asked Questions
Federal White Collar Crime
The FBI defines White Collar Crime simply as “lying, cheating, and stealing” and it is classified by the Department of Justice as “non violent illegal activities which principally involve traditional notions of deceit, deception, concealment, manipulation, breach of trust, subterfuge or illegal circumvention.” Although there is no definitive, universal definition for white collar crime, it is generally identified as nonviolent crimes that public officials and businesspeople commit predominantly for their own personal gain. This subset of criminal law includes a virtual laundry list of offenses, myriad acts of fraud, which is generally defined as the intentional deception of a business or person, being chief among them.
Commercial fraud, consumer/internet scams, E-scams & warnings, identity theft, credit card fraud, phone/telemarketing fraud, adoption scams, work at home scams, jury duty scams, healthcare fraud, insurance fraud, Medicare fraud, bankruptcy fraud, mail fraud, staged auto accidents, government fraud, pump and dump stock scams and securities fraud are all examples of fraud-based white collar crime.
There are many other crimes, however, that are predominantly identified as white collar crime as well, including the following:
Antitrust violations, computer and internet fraud, credit card fraud, phone and telemarketing fraud, bankruptcy fraud, healthcare fraud, environmental law violations, insurance fraud, mail fraud, government fraud, tax evasion, financial fraud, securities fraud, insider trading, bribery, kickbacks, counterfeiting, public corruption, money laundering, embezzlement, economic espionage and trade secret theft.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, white-collar crime is estimated to cost the United States more than $300 billion annually. Although typically the government charges individuals for white-collar crimes, the government has the power to sanction corporations as well for these offenses. The penalties for white-collar offenses include fines, home detention, community confinement, paying the cost of prosecution, forfeitures, restitution, supervised release, and imprisonment.
Any defenses available to non-white-collar defendants in criminal court are also available to those accused of white-collar crimes. A common refrain of individuals or organizations facing white-collar criminal charges is the defense of entrapment. For instance, in United States v. Williams, 705 F.2d 603 (2nd Cir. 1983), one of the cases arising from “Operation Abscam,” Senator Harrison Williams attempted unsuccessfully to argue that the government induced him into accepting a bribe.
Both state and federal legislation enumerate the activities that constitute white-collar criminal offenses. The Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution gives the federal government the authority to regulate white-collar crime, and a number of federal agencies, including the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service, the Secret Service, U.S. Customs, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Securities and Exchange Commission, participate in the enforcement of federal white-collar crime. In addition, most states employ their own agencies to enforce white-collar crime laws at the state level.
As in other complex matters, Mr. Neff uses a team approach to the defense of these cases. Investigators and experts in accounting, finance, and other specialized areas are available as support staff in all cases. For a confidential consultation, please contact Mr. Neff via the form below, by phone at (215) 563-9800 or email Marc@nefflawoffices.com.