What is Considered White Collar Crime?
According to the United States Federal Bureau of Investigations, the term “white-collar crime” has become synonymous with the full range of frauds committed by businesses, executives, government officials, professionals in finance or accounting, or employees in positions of trust. It is generally non-violent in nature and encompasses many different crimes, such as embezzlement, money laundering, federal mortgage fraud, bank fraud, and healthcare fraud.
What are Some Common White Collar Crimes?
Embezzlement occurs when money, property, or other assets have been withheld by an employee or other individual in a place of power or trust to be used for personal gain. Embezzlement can appear at any corporate level, and in many instances, it originates with bank tellers, payroll clerks, managers, and other such employees. Embezzlement can also be considered accounting embezzlement when it involves the changing or manipulating of financial records to cover up illegal withdrawals or other misuse of funds.
Money laundering is a critical component of various white-collar crimes, including fraud, drug trafficking, corruption, and organized crime activities. It is a criminal offense used in the process of making illegally obtained profits appear legitimate by disguising the true origin of the gains. Money laundering poses such a significant threat to the integrity of financial systems that many stringent laws have been put into place to combat and discourage its use.
Federal Mortgage Fraud
Federal mortgage fraud occurs when either a mortgage lender or borrower lies, purposefully omits information, purposefully misrepresents information, or otherwise falsifies records regarding mortgage loans. Examples of this include a falsified W-2 form to prove an inaccurate income for a higher loan or a lender creating a home appraisal form showing a higher value to justify a more substantial loan.
Bank fraud happens when an individual attempts to obtain money from a bank or its patrons with incorrect or falsified information. While the tactics employed vary from case to case, bank fraud typically involves posing as an official from a bank or financial institution or trying to contact bankers or patrons to obtain account information from them.
Health Care Fraud
Healthcare fraud involves intentionally submitting incorrect or false information to healthcare providers, insurers, or government healthcare programs for personal financial gain. This type of fraud covers a broad range of white-collar crimes committed within the healthcare industry. Healthcare fraud typically revolves around the manipulation of medical information or billing records to obtain any benefit to which one is not entitled. Healthcare fraud can occur in many areas of the system, from hospitals and clinics to medical equipment suppliers, laboratories, and even individual healthcare practitioners. This form of fraud is taken seriously by law enforcement agencies, and penalties can be severe, such as fines, restitution, and imprisonment. Common forms of fraud include:
- Billing fraud – occurs when falsified or inflated claims are submitted and can involve charging for services not rendered, exaggerating a condition’s severity, or unbundling services with the goal of maximizing reimbursement.
- Prescription fraud – involves the illegal sale or distribution of prescription drugs for non-medical purposes. This may include forging prescriptions, obtaining multiple prescriptions for the same medication, or issuing prescriptions without a legitimate medical purpose.
- False documentation – can involve altering or creating medical records, test results, or patient information to support fraudulent claims. Examples of this may include fabricating diagnosis, exaggerating symptoms, or forging signatures.
- Kickbacks and referral fraud – kickbacks are illegal inducements or payments in exchange for referring patients or purchasing certain medical products or services. This can lead to unnecessary treatments from the benefitting provider.
- Medicare or Medicaid fraud – due to the vast amount of money involved in these popular government healthcare programs, fraudulent activities like submitting false claims, billing for services not rendered, or identity theft to access healthcare benefits are common.
What Are Other Examples of White Collar Crime?
- Mail and wire fraud
- Insurance fraud
- Securities fraud
- Tax evasion
- Theft of intellectual property
- Bribery and corruption
- Trafficking of illegal goods or humans
What Are Common Penalties for White Collar Crimes?
Most individuals convicted of white-collar crimes can expect to receive one or more of the following penalties:
- House arrest or community confinement
Imprisonment is a standard penalty because most white-collar crimes are felonies. Most convicted individuals will go to prison followed by or in conjunction with another penalty listed. State-wide, Texas has instituted general penalty guidelines for white-collar crimes involving embezzlement, and these guidelines may be applied to other cases as well if the amount involves:
- Theft of $1,500 – $20,000: Texas categorizes this as a “state jail felony,” meaning a conviction will result in 180 days to two years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Theft of $20,000 – $100,000: This tier is considered a third-degree felony. This category includes 2 – 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Theft of $100,000 – $200,000: This tier is considered a second-degree felony and carries 2 – 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Theft of more than $200,000: May be charged with a first-degree felony. This still garners the same hefty fine of up to $10,000, and can come with a prison sentence of up to 99 years.
What Are Common Defenses in White Collar Crime Cases?
- Coercion – being forced or manipulated into committing crimes
- Incapacity – when charged with a crime that one is not capable of committing, either physically or mentally
- Intoxication – the court may reduce sentences where there is proof of the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Insanity – requires proof that a mental episode was suffered
- Entrapment – being coerced into committing the crime or coming about a confession unlawfully will lead to an entrapment plea
What Can My Lawyer Do For Me?
If you’re under fire for a white-collar crime case, let us take some of the heat off of you. We have the skills, resources, and experience to learn the ins and outs of your case to research and investigate accounts, transactions, statements, and documents to get you your life back. Call us today at 832-400-4133 or fill out our contact form for a free consultation.