White Collar Crime

White-collar crime refers to financially motivated nonviolent crime committed by business and government professionals.


White collar crime is a nonviolent crime committed for financial gain. It is a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation.

Most white collar crime is investigated and prosecuted by federal authorities: the FBIthe Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (FINRA). Individuals can go to prison and steep fines if they are convicted of white collar crimes. Authorities can also pursue financial damages from corporations and banks that commit white collar crime on an institution-wide level.

The most common white collar offenses include:

  • Bribery involves using money, goods, services or information to influence the actions, opinions, or decisions of the taker. Even if a transaction is never completed, offering or soliciting of a bribe is enough to incur criminal liability.
  • Extortion occurs when one person illegally obtains property from another by actual or threatened force, fear, or violence, or under cover of official right. Force can be a violent act or even placing a person in fear of something terrible to come.
  • Fraud is a type of crime which involves deceiving someone for monetary gain. One common type of white collar fraud is securities fraud (fraud around the trading of securities).
  • Embezzlement is improperly taking money from someone to whom you owe some type of duty, when a person who has been entrusted with money or property appropriates it for his or her own use and benefit.
  • Tax evasion is using illegal means to avoid paying taxes. Tax evasion can range from simply filing tax forms with false information, to illegally transferring property so as to avoid tax obligations.
  • Money laundering is the investment or transfer of money from racketeering, drug transactions or other embezzlement schemes so that it appears that its original source either cannot be traced or is legitimate.
  • Blackmail is a demand for money or other consideration under threat to do bodily harm, to injure property, to accuse of a crime, or to expose secrets. Blackmail involves a threat to do something that would cause a person to suffer embarrassment or financial loss, unless that person meets certain demands.

Many white collar crimes are especially difficult to prosecute because the perpetrators use sophisticated means to conceal their activities through a series of complex transactions. One of the aspects of white collar crime is that suspects will often become aware of the fact that they are being investigated days, weeks, or even months prior to their arrest.

An experienced white collar defense attorney can help navigate any potential criminal liability, as well as defenses that may be available. Contact a white collar crime lawyer for advice about your situation.

Thomas Elliott

Education: Brooklyn Law School, Brooklyn, New York. Pace University, White Plains, New York.
Professional Associations and Memberships: American Bar Association, New York State Bar, The Association of the Bar of the City of New York, Brooklyn Bar Association, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA).

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