Not all crimes deal with violence or drugs. White collar crimes are common, and they typically involve behavior that scams the victims, such as individuals, financial institutions or the government, out of money. There are certain types of crimes that are more common, and the punishments for conviction can vary greatly.
According to Northcentral University, corporate fraud is a common type of white collar crime. Most of the cases that the government pursues involve:
- Insider trading
- Financial information falsification
- Methods to inhibit regulating bodies from investigating corporate fraud
A Ponzi scheme is another way people trick others out of money. This involves paying fake investment returns with new investors money. Embezzlement is a type of white collar crime in which a person (typically an employee) misuses a company’s funds for his or her own personal benefit.
Bankruptcy fraud occurs when someone who is filing for bankruptcy hides nonessential assets so the creditors cannot take them. Extortion is also common, and this occurs via blackmail or forcing someone to pay money for protection.
While white collar crimes result in economic hardships for the victims, the New York Times discusses that sentencing for someone who is guilty can be challenging. Some defendants may get away with very short jail sentences, a relatively minimal fine and community service hours. Other sentencing may require years in prison and high restitution to the victims.
One of the arguments that defense attorneys make is that the defendant is a productive member of society and the crime was a one-time mistake. Judges have wide discretion when it comes to sentencing white collar criminals, so being able to show that the defendant does not pose harm to the community may result in a lighter sentence.