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What is a White Collar Crime?

By Benson Varghese

Last Updated: June 5th, 2020
Published on: May 17th, 2016

Federal criminal defense attorney Benson Varghese discusses white collar crimes in this short video.

A white collar crime is an offense that is alleged to have been committed by individuals who are professional – whether they are government employees or in the private sector – who have a high degree of trust or access to information that allows them to commit offenses. As a result, most white collar prosecutions are seeking not only to punish the individual who committed the crime and deter others from committing similar crimes, but to also seek restitution for the victims.

Most allegations of fraud are examples of white collar crime. Wire fraud, mail fraud, bank fraud are all very common examples of white collar crimes. Other common examples include health care fraud, mortgage fraud and bankruptcy fraud, but white collar crimes are not limited to allegations of fraud. They also include things like public corruption, bribery and money laundering. Most white collar prosecutions take place at the federal level, although states are increasingly passing laws that allow them to prosecute white collar crimes, as well.

Most white collar cases are complex. It is not at all uncommon for an investigation to take years before a person receives a target letter from a federal prosecutor or gets arrested on a federal warrant. One example of a white collar crimes is money laundering. Money laundering it the act of taking illegitimate funds and making them appear as if they had a legitimate source. The federal government is particularly interested in the use of non public information for self gain. That generally falls under the umbrella of insider trading. Agencies like the SEC are particularly interested inĀ investment fraud. This includes things like ponzi schemes, pyramid schemes and market manipulation. Investigations into heath care fraud often look into a doctor or other medical provider’s billing practices. They look for over-billing to the federal government, over-billing to insurance companies and kickbacks.

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