In many Western industrialized countries, laws are enacted to protect the public from being victimized by unscrupulous businesses or corrupt political practices.
In short, white collar crime defines when behavior crosses the line from questionable ethics into outright illegality. Sometimes, accusations
of white collar crime are often difficult to prove because the line between ethics violations and outright criminal acts is sometimes very fine.
For example, accountants who arrange the numbers to make a financially weak company seem healthy are seldom charged with criminal activity (that is, if the company can fix the problem and avoid bankruptcy.)
If a business fails, however, and an audit reveals a major cover-up that has resulted in monetary damage to partners or clients, the people who were involved would most likely face criminal charges.
More clear-cut cases of white collar crime include forgery and counterfeiting, embezzlement, and fraud. The list also encompasses crimes against the general public and consumers, such as credit card fraud, and telemarketing fraud,
Bribery, kickbacks, political corruption ,tax evasion, money laundering, economic espionage, and trade secret theft are also commonly placed under the heading of white collar crime. Like those engaged in any other criminal activity, accused white collar criminals usually stand trial in court. Depending on the verdict, prison sentences for white collar crime typically average 1-2 years.
Well publicized cases, like Martha Stewart's insider trading trial, or corporate whistleblowing that uncovered the Enron scandal, have increased awareness and launched white collar crime into the mainstream media. More recently, citizens outraged by the ethics (or the lack thereof) of major financial and banking institutions resulted in Occupy Wall Street movements worldwide.
Whether you find yourself accused of having committed a white collar crime, or think you have been the target of fraud or other illegal activity, you'll need to find a lawyer who is familiar with the specific laws governing white collar crime.
Around the Web, find out more about white collar crime, including historic or well-known cases, and the types of punishment meted out to convicted offenders ....
More about white collar crime around the Web:
FBI White - Collar Crime - Check out information and resources for how to avoid being
cheated, what to do and how to report criminals if you get caught in a white collar scam, with related news updates and overviews of interesting cases.
White-collar crime - Wikipedia - Get the basics with related history, facts and information on what constitutes white collar crimes as opposed to blue collar or 'street' crimes, and a discussion on the different treatment white collar crimes received under the law.
White Collar & Financial Crimes - Here's a collection of white collar crimes resources with a selection
of articles, related web resources, and the latest US laws relating to white collar crime including copyright, commerce and trade, IRS statutes, and criminal procedures.