“White-collar crime generally encompasses a variety of nonviolent crimes usually committed in commercial situations for financial gain,” according to the Legal Information Institute. While there are literally dozens of white collar offenses, some of them include healthcare fraud, identity theft, mortgage fraud, internet crimes, mail fraud, money laundering, securities fraud, tax evasion, embezzlement, and so on.
Even though white collar crimes are nonviolent, it doesn’t mean they are victimless crimes. For example, a single fraudulent scheme can wipe out a victim’s life savings or it can cause investors to lose billions.
“Despite efforts to crack down on illegal activity, crimes like fraud, bribery, embezzlement, and money laundering are rampant in corporations,” according to the Harvard Business Review. It can happen with individuals on a small scale, or it can even happen with some of the nation’s largest banking institutions, with one of the nation’s biggest banks included.
State vs. Federal Crime
One highly publicized scandal involved Wells Fargo bank. In the summer of 2016, some of Wells Fargo employees in a Wells Fargo retail banking unit were accused of opening over one million unauthorized accounts, and sold thousands of products to customers they didn’t need – a story that made national news.
While many white collar crimes are violations of federal law, are they all federal crimes or can they be prosecuted on the state level? Contrary to popular belief, not all white collar crimes are prosecuted in federal court. In reality, a white collar crime may be a violation of state law, a violation of federal law, or it may be a violation of both state and federal law. Identity theft, for example, is a violation of state and federal law. Here’s information on California’s identity theft law:
“Identity theft is someone taking personal information like your name, Social Security number, or financial account number and using it for an unlawful purpose. Everyday people, business owners, well-known celebrities, and children are prey to it. In California, all forms of identity theft are crimes (Penal Code section 530.5 et. seq.),” according to the State of California Department of Justice Office of the Attorney General.
“What if I commit a white collar crime and it violates state and federal law?” In that situation, the state and federal prosecutors will examine your case and decide whether to prosecute you in state or federal court. As a general rule, when such a crime is prosecuted on the federal level, the defendant faces harsher penalties than if he or she were prosecuted for the same offense but on the state level.
Facing white collar crime charges? Contact the Law Office of Nabiel C. Ahmed for a free consultation by calling (510) 907-6600.