What are White Collar Crimes?

“Lying, cheating, and stealing”. That’s what the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) refers to as white collar crime.

White collar crime is an all-encompassing phrase which refers to financial motivated non-violent crimes. The term “white collar” is derived from the idea that these types of crimes were typically committed by business executives dressed in a white shirt and tie. However, white collar crimes are committed by people of all types of backgrounds, not just business executives.

Unlike many other crimes, white collar crime typically does not involve the use of physical force or weapons. Instead, white collar criminals often rely on technical know-how, inside information, or scheming activities to defraud individuals, governments, businesses — usually out of their money. The individuals who commit white collar crime are commonly professionals who have resources and direct access to such crimes. Because white collar crimes are usually financial-related, they are not typically connected to crimes against property, civil rights, vice, organized crimes, or narcotics.

The most common white collar crimes include antitrust violations, computer crimes, forgery, bankruptcy fraud, intellectual property rights fraud, identity theft, health care fraud, insurance fraud, bribery, blackmail, counterfeiting, insider trading, embezzlement, mail fraud, wire fraud, illegal pharmaceuticals, monetary fraud, and a slew of other offenses.

Some members of society view white collar crime as less grievous than certain other criminal offenses. That is, “crimes in suits” is less serious than “crimes in streets”.  As such, in some cases the punishment for a white collar crime in imprisonment in a minimum security prison as opposed to a maximum security prison.

That said, in the United States, white collar crimes are most often prosecuted at the federal (particularly when the crime crosses states) or state level, or both. These types of crimes are responsible for large financial losses to governments, corporations, small businesses, and even individuals. As such, many are investigated by authoritative government agencies, like the Securities and Exchange Commission and Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Today’s white collar crime schemes are more sophisticated than ever. To make sure you and your business are protected against this serious risk, speak to a BOLT insurance agent. And, if you suspect a white collar crime in your business, contact an attorney and your local FBI office.