Although white-collar crimes tend to be characterized as non-violent – and therefore less dangerous – criminal offenses, the potential repercussions of being convicted of a white-collar crime are very serious. In fact, an accusation alone can taint your reputation and have a devastating impact on your career if you fail to act quickly to protect your rights and defend yourself. If you are being investigated for, or have already been charged with, a white-collar crime, you need an experienced white-collar crime attorney immediately.
At Haas Law, we have extensive experience protecting and defending people accused of committing white-collar crimes. Let us help you if you have reason to believe that a law enforcement agency is targeting you in a white-collar crime investigation or if you are being prosecuted for allegedly committing a white-collar crime.
What Is a White-Collar Crime?
Despite being commonly used and accepted in the United States for the last century, the term “white-collar crime” is not a legal term. In fact, it was a sociologist who originally coined the term and defined it as “a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation.” Today, a white-collar crime typically refers to a non-violent, financially driven criminal offense prosecuted by the state or federal government. Common examples of white-collar crimes include:
- Cybercrimes and Computer Crime. Cyber and computer crimes involve computers, the internet, and/or computer systems used to commit other crimes, such as the possession or dissemination of child pornography, identity theft, or embezzlement.
- Racketeering/RICO Charges. The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) is a federal law that makes it a crime for anyone “employed by or associated with any enterprise engaged in, or the activities of which affect, interstate or foreign commerce, to conduct or participate, directly or indirectly, in the conduct of such enterprise’s affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity or collection of unlawful debt.”
- Embezzlement. Embezzlement is the fraudulent appropriation of property by a person to whom such property has been entrusted, or into whose hands it has lawfully come. Embezzlement differs from theft crimes because it involves a lawful transfer of money or property that becomes unlawful.
- Antitrust Violations. Antitrust violations involve unlawful mergers and business practices that typically violate federal laws, such as the Sherman Act, the Federal Trade Commission Act, and the Clayton Act.
- Counterfeiting. Counterfeiting refers to the production, possession, or use of false documents, such as currency, passports, and birth certificates that are used to defraud the government.
- Environmental Crimes. Environmental crimes may include a violation of federal laws such as the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act and/or stem from more traditional crimes that have an environmental impact, such as violating hazardous waste and pollution regulations, illegal logging or mining, and illegally trading in wildlife.
- Healthcare Fraud. The filing of dishonest healthcare claims for profit, which may include anything from forging documents or using someone else’s insurance card to providing false information when applying for programs or services.
- Medicare and Medicaid Fraud. Knowingly misrepresenting the truth to obtain unauthorized benefits may violate federal laws such as the False Claims Act (FCA), the Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS), the Physician Self-Referral Law (Stark law), the Exclusion Authorities, and the Civil Monetary Penalties Law (CMPL).
- Bank Fraud. Bank fraud involves defrauding a financial institution to obtain money or property.
- Bribery. Bribery usually (but not always) involves the giving or receiving of an item of value by or to a public or law enforcement official with the intent of influencing that official’s actions.
- Identity Theft. Identity theft occurs when someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal data for economic gain.
- Mail Fraud. Mail fraud is a federal white-collar crime that requires the mailing of a letter, advertisement, or other correspondence for the purpose of defrauding victims.
- Ponzi and Pyramid Schemes. Both involve complex schemes intended to defraud victims of money or property. Ponzi schemes involve investors giving money to a portfolio manager who then pays them “profits” using incoming funds from more recent investors. A pyramid scheme creates a “pyramid” of investors with the ones on the bottom paying the ones on the top.
- Money laundering. Laundering money aims to obscure the source of illegally obtained money, potentially violating numerous federal laws, including the Money Laundering Control Acts, the Bank Secrecy Act, the Patriot Act, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, and the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act.
- Wire Fraud. Wire fraud refers to a broad set of criminal actions that involve an intent to defraud using electronic communications, including a telephone, television, or the internet.
- Public Corruption. Similar to, but more subtle than, bribery, public corruption occurs when a government official asks for or receives anything of value in exchange for, or because of, any official act.
Why Did I Receive a “Target Letter?”
The nature of most white-collar crimes means that they are frequently investigated by federal law enforcement agencies and prosecuted in federal court. As part of a federal investigation, you may receive a “target letter” if you are a potential suspect. A target letter is sent by the U.S. Attorney’s Office or by an agency related to the conduct being investigated. A target letter will notify you that you are a target in the investigation, identify the crime(s) being investigated, inform you of your rights, and may include a request for documents or for you to contact someone to discuss the investigation.
If you receive a target letter, do not ignore the letter; however, you should also not respond to any requests included in the letter without first consulting with an experienced white-collar crime attorney. At this stage of the investigation, an experienced attorney may be able to prevent charges from being filed against you; however, the earlier you bring in a white collar crime attorney, the more likely it is that charges can be avoided.
Get Help from an Experienced White Collar Crime Attorney
If you believe you are under investigation for a white-collar crime or have already been charged with one, the best way to protect your rights, your reputation, and your future is to consult with an experienced white-collar attorney immediately. At Haas Law, we have the resources, skills, experience, and dedication necessary to advocate on your behalf, protect your rights, and defend you if you are charged with a white-collar crime.
Call us at 407-755-7675, chat with us online, or submit our online form today. Because we understand that time is of the essence when federal law enforcement authorities are investigating you, our calls are answered 24 hours a day, allowing you to schedule an appointment as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.