Generally, white-collar crimes are nonviolent crimes that involve theft or fraud committed in a commercial setting for the sole purpose of financial gain. Another common trait the two share is they can result in both criminal charges and a civil liability case. Just being investigated for any white-collar crime threatens your personal and professional reputation. Being charged with one places you at risk of imprisonment and large fines. A theft attorney in St. Petersburg can help defend you against such charges.
Many White-Collar Offenses Can Be Federal Crimes
The federal government takes a great deal of interest in white-collar theft and fraud. Though the law allows federal district attorneys to prosecute any such offenses, the U.S. government usually looks at the entire scope of the fraud or theft and decides whether to take jurisdiction based on any – or a combination of – the following:
- Who was the victim? If it is the federal government (Medicare, Medicaid, a federally chartered bank, for example), the Feds take a greater interest.
- Does the scope of the white-collar theft/fraud involve a criminal enterprise (more than one or two defendants)?
- Will federal statutory punishments be much harsher than Florida’s?
- Are there one or more underlying offenses of the crime, such as money laundering, conspiracy, enterprise corruption (RICO), tax evasion, wire or mail fraud?
A few of the many types of white-collar theft and fraud charges that can land a defendant in state or federal court (possibly facing civil charges after the verdict is rendered) include:
Credit card fraud – These types of crimes include stealing and using others’ cards, applying for cards in others’ names, skimming ATMs, and collecting credit card information through fake websites or phishing.
Bank and loan fraud – This encompasses a large collection of crimes. A few include lying on a loan application, appraisal fraud, mortgage application fraud, ATM deposit fraud, altered checks and financial institutions that provide fraudulent loans.
Insurance fraud – These crimes can include false personal injury or homeowners’ claims, arson-for-profit, staged auto accidents, and healthcare fraud against a private insurer or federal healthcare programs.
Counterfeiting – This offense is the act of creating an imitation of currency, forging checks, legal identification cards, etc. to defraud any third party.
Social Security fraud – There are various types of Social Security fraud. They can involve wrongfully receiving Social Security benefits, applying for benefits under false pretenses, or via any means that results in false personal gain, including misuse of a beneficiary’s funds or concealing a beneficiary’s death.
Computer-related crimes – Today, many white-collar thefts and frauds have a technology-related component. And the federal government pays great attention to this element of the crime, especially because by their use of the Web, many qualify as interstate offenses. Most of them involve stolen Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, and debit or credit card details. Just about any one of the crimes listed above can be committed using a computer and the Internet.
White Collar Crime Penalties and Defenses
A small sampling of penalties for white-collar fraud and theft includes:
- Fifteen years and a fine up to $10,000 for a second-degree felony theft involving credit card fraud [Fla. Stat. §§ 775.082, 775.083.]
- Five years in prison and up to $250,00 in fines for bankruptcy fraud [18 U.S.C. § 152]
- Federal identity theft brings a maximum penalty of 15 years’ imprisonment and large fines based on the amount of money or goods stolen; and the number of identities that were compromised [18 U.S.C. § 1028].
And if one is convicted of a federal white-collar theft or fraud, in addition to prison time and fines, the defendant also must pay for the trial in which he or she was convicted.
There are several defenses available, including insufficient evidence, lack of intent and entrapment. So if you have been charged with Florida or federal theft or fraud or believe you might be under investigation, call the experienced theft attorneys in St. Petersburg at Goldman Wetzel today for a free legal consultation at 727-828-3900 or contact us online.