Blue-collar crimes such as vandalism and shoplifting are quickly obvious. These “victimless” crimes easily draw police attention. By contrast, white-collar crimes, including mail and wire fraud, are more difficult to deduct. Sadly, many white-collar crimes go unreported because the victims are embarrassed to share their stories.
White-collar crimes can be prosecuted at the state or federal level.
What are White-collar Crimes
White-collar crime, also known as corporate crime, is typically a nonviolent crime with a financial motivator.
Common example of white-collar crimes includes:
- Mail fraud
- Wire fraud
- Identity Theft
Some white-collar crimes have gained national and worldwide attention due to the egregious nature of the crime. Bernie Madoff was arrested in 2011 and later convicted, for a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors out of $65 million. The world’s sixth largest energy company, Enron, committed accounting fraud. As a result, top executives were convicted of numerous white-collar crimes including bank fraud and insider trading.
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Fraud is a scheme set to obtain money or property under false pretenses. Additionally, fraud includes selling, distributing, exchanging, or using counterfeit products. As such, mail fraud is comprised of a fraud scheme carried out using the U.S. Postal Service or other private carriers.
Mail fraud, covered under 18 U.S.C. § 1341, is punishable by imprisonment up to 20 years and a fine.
The original Ponzi scheme was created by Charles Ponzi a hundred years ago. He was indicted for 86 counts of mail fraud (he pleaded guilty to one count) for a scheme that involved postal reply coupons. Modern-day mail fraud schemes include fake lotteries or sweepstakes and investments to “get rich quick”.
Wire fraud includes schemes transpiring over the phone or email. This type of fraud may include telemarketing scams, junk email, phishing, or phone calls claiming to be from a government agency or utility company collecting a “late” payment. In more modern times, wire fraud can even take place over social media.
The burden of proof falls on the prosecution to prove that the fraud was intentional and used wire (internet), radio, or television to advance the scheme.
In order for the charges to be filed in federal court, the wire fraud needed to transpire in more than one state. For example, if a person in New York sends an email intending to defraud to recipients in Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina, the sender could be federally charged with wire fraud in all 4 states where the email was sent or received. By contrast, if the scheming email was sent and received in Georgia, state criminal charges would apply.
Like charges of mail fraud, wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Mail fraud legislation has been in place since 1872. Congress easily approved the measure making it a crime to use the U.S. Postal Service. “any scheme or artifice to defraud”.
In 1952, the Wire Fraud Act 18 U.S.C. § 1343 was established. This act was an extension of the Communications Act of 1934.
These crimes commonly cross state lines. As a result, both the Mail Fraud Act and Wire Fraud Act are federal offenses that are typically charged and prosecuted in federal, not state courts.
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Experienced Defense You Deserve
If you are facing charges for a white-collar crime, contact the Law Offices of Matthew C. Hines at (404) 984-2947. We offer a free consultation to discuss your case. Take immediate action to protect your rights.
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