White Collar Crime, Minnesota
What is White Collar Crime?
The term "white collar crime" has been credited to sociologist Edwin Sutherland who coined the phrase in a speech he gave in 1939. In his book "White Collar Crime", Mr. Sutherland defined white collar crime as a "crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation."
Today, the term "white collar crime" generally refers to non-violent crimes of deception that are motivated by profit. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, "white-collar offenses" are "non-violent illegal activities which principally involve traditional notions of deceit, deception, concealment, manipulation, breach of trust, subterfuge or illegal circumvention." Some commonly charged "white collar" crimes include:
Bank fraud or financial institution fraud generally refers to a transaction in which a bank is deceived in order to obtain money or property. To prove bank fraud, the government must establish beyond a reasonable doubt: (1) that the defendant knowingly, executed or attempted to execute, a scheme or artiface, to either (a) defraud, or (b) through false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, obtain the monies or other property of, a financial institution; (2) that the defendant acted with the intent to defraud the bank or financial institution; and (3) that the bank or financial institution was then insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or chartered by the United States.
Health Care Fraud
Health Care fraud covers a variety of frauds in the health care field. Some of the most prevalent health care fraud schemes include: billing for services not rendered, upcoding of services (i.e., billing for more expensive service than the one actually provided), upcoding of items (e.g., billing for a motorized wheelchair when a only a manually propelled chair was provided), duplicate claims for a single service, unbundling (i.e., submitting bills in a fragmented fashion in order to maximize the reimbursement for various tests or procedures that are to be billed together at a reduced cost); excessive services (services in excess of the patient’s actual needs); medically unnecessary services (services not justified by the patient's medical condition) and kickbacks. The FBI has recently stated that health care fraud investigations are one of the highest priority areas of investigation in its White Collar Crime Program, ranking behind only Public Corruption and Corporate Fraud.
The U.S. insurance industry consists of thousands of companies and collects nearly $1 trillion in premiums each year. According to the FBI's Financial Crimes Report (FY 2006), the FBI is focusing a majority of its resources relating to insurance fraud on the following areas: (1) Hurricane Katrina Insurance Fraud (numerous frauds in the wake of the hurricane); (2) Insurance-Related Corporate Fraud; Premium Diversion/Unauthorized Entities (e.g., insurance agents and brokers pocketing policyholder premiums); (3) Viatical Settlement Fraud (e.g., making misrepresentations on insurance policy applications to hide the fact that the party applying for a policy has already been diagnosed with a terminal condition); and (4) Workers Compensation Fraud (e.g., entities who purport to provide workers compensation insurance misappropriate funds without providing insurance).
Corporate fraud typically arises in four broad areas: (1) falsification of financial information (e.g., false accounting entries, bogus trades designed to inflate profit or hide losses, and transactions designed to evade regulatory oversight); (2) self-dealing by corporate executives (e.g., kickbacks, and manipulation of stock options, and use of corporate property for personal gain); (3) mutual fund or hedge fund fraud (e.g., late trading, market timing schemes, and falsification of net asset values); and (4) obstruction of justice (designed to conceal criminal conduct).
The most common types of Securities and Commodities Fraud include: (1) Market Manipulation (e.g., artificially inflating the price of stocks so that co-conspirators can sell their shares at a profit); (2) High Yield Investment Fraud (e.g, Ponzi Schemes -- using money collected from new investors, rather than profits from an underlying business venture, to pay high rates of return promised to earlier investors); (3) Advanced Fee Schemes (persuading investors to advance relatively small sums of money in order to be able to participate in a lucrative investment opportunity); (4) Hedge Fund Fraud (e.g., overstatement of fund assets, misappropriation of assets, miscalculation of fund manager performance fees, trading on insider information, market timing, and late trading); (5) Commodities Fraud (e.g., investments in precious metals or commodities sold based on fraudulent sales pitches claiming high rates of return); (6) Foreign Currency Fraud (e.g., foreign currency trading firms that use false claims to induce investment in the spot foreign currency market); and (7) Broker Embezzlement (e.g., forging investor checks or transferring funds or securities without authorization).
What should I do if I am charged with a white collar crime
If you have been charged with a white collar crime or you are being investigated for one, speak to a knowledgeable defense lawyer as soon as possible to learn about your rights, your defense, and the legal system. Contacting an attorney early on is critical. Early preparation by an experienced defense lawyer can increase your chances of a favorable outcome, including the possibility of charges being dismissed.