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What is White Collar Crime?

White collar crime is a broad term for nonviolent crimes committed in violation of business, trust, or public trust. The common thread in these crimes is the privileged position of the offender: someone who has access to something valuable through their job, organization, or profession. White-collar crimes usually have a monetary motive and involve deception to exploit a person, company, or other entity for personal gain.

These crimes may be committed by an employee (or former employee) with insider knowledge or on behalf of an organization. Because of their damaging effects on society and potential for recurrence, white-collar crime has become a focus of law enforcement across the country. If you are charged with a white-collar crime, it is important to get the best defense possible to avoid harsh penalties and conviction. Here are some things to know:

Types of White-Collar Crimes

There are many types of white-collar crimes, including fraud, embezzlement, computer crimes, securities and exchange violations, tax fraud, and tax evasion.

Fraud and Embezzlement

Fraud is a false representation made with an intent to deceive another to get something of value. There are many types of fraud, including:

Credit card fraud – Credit card fraud involves using another person’s credit card information or making false charges on your own credit card with the intent to defraud the card company.

Insurance fraud – Insurance fraud occurs when a person lies about a crime or an accident in order to claim money from an insurance company.

Mortgage fraud – Mortgage fraud occurs when people lie about how much money they make or how much money they have in assets in order to get a mortgage from a bank.

Investment fraud – Investment fraud happens when a person is promised a high rate of return on a risky investment, such as an overseas lottery or real estate deal, but the person who promised the high rate of return does not follow through on the investment.

Computer Crimes

Computer crimes are crimes in which a computer is used to damage or disrupt computers, networks, or websites. Computer crimes include:

Identity theft – Identity theft is when someone steals your personal information, such as your name, Social Security number, credit card information, or financial account information, with the intent to commit fraud.

Cyber-stalking – Cyber-stalking is when someone uses the internet or other forms of technology to stalk or harass another person.

Hacking – Hacking is the illegal intrusion into a computer system or network.

Securities and Exchange Violations

Fraud or insider trading in the securities industry. Securities are stocks, bonds, and other investment instruments. The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is the government agency that regulates the securities industry. Insider trading is when someone buys or sells a stock based on information that has not yet been made public.

Tax Fraud and Tax Evasion

Tax fraud happens when people lie about their income or the amount, they spent on certain things to get a reduced amount of money they owe in taxes. Tax evasion is a more serious crime in which people willfully do not pay their taxes. The government relies on taxes for income and will try to bring federal charges against parties that violate tax laws.


Extortion is the act of obtaining property or money from another person, usually by using force or threats. It may also refer to the act of obtaining some sort of benefit for free in this way. Some common tactics used by extortionists include asking for money under threat of violence or false accusation, blackmailing someone for money or other valuable assets, threatening to publicly expose a person’s illegal activities, or otherwise holding someone’s assets as a form of leverage.

Ponzi Schemes

Ponzi schemes are a type of investment fraud where the perpetrators promise high rates of return for investments in the form of Ponzi payments. The scheme is named after Charles Ponzi, who ran one such pyramid scheme in 1920s America. In a Ponzi scheme, the perpetrator pays returns to older investors from new investments made by newer investors — typically with the promise that these new investors will pay higher returns than older investors. The scheme collapses when it can no longer find enough new investors to make up for the payments being paid out to older ones.

Contact a Savannah White Collar Criminal Defense Attorney Today

If you or a loved one has been charged with a white-collar crime, it is imperative that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case. A lawyer who specializes in criminal defense will be able to help explain your options, protect your rights, and fight for you in court.

Phillips Carson Phillips is a strong and experienced Savannah criminal defense attorney. Contact us to schedule a consultation by calling (912) 232-0081 or using our online contact form.