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What exactly is a white collar crime?

| Apr 3, 2016 | Federal Criminal Defense

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a white collar crimeme can be easily summed up as any crime involving lying, cheating, and stealing. However, is any crime really that simple to classify? The term, white collar crime was coined in 1939 by Edwin Sutherland, who said that a white-collar crime is “any crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation.”


Now that we know where the term came from, what actually falls under this classification? White collar crime is a federal offense and, generally speaking, can include any crime that is committed by an organization, business or government employee that is motivated by financial gain. Crimes can include wire fraud, mortgage fraud, tax fraud, conspiracy charges, identity theft, Ponzi schemes, internet scams, money laundering and RICO charges which stands for the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, to name a few.

Regardless of the crime committed, every crime has a victim, and a perpetrator, and white collar crime is no exception. Simply put, the difference is that victims stand to lose a lot of money while criminals are out to gain a lot of money. Although it may not happen often, sometimes those accused, and even convicted, of a federal crime such as a white collar crime may not even be aware that they are committing the crime to begin with. For example, not knowing all the intricacies of tax law may have you committing a crime without even knowing it.

No matter what the intent was when the crime was committed, involving a federal criminal defense attorney during all stages of prosecution can help you achieve a positive outcome. If you have been accused or charged with a federal crime, seeking legal counsel sooner rather than later can prove to be very beneficial.