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Could you have committed a white collar crime?

If you watch the news or keep up with the local periodicals in Lynchburg consistently, you will likely hear the term "white collar crime" come up sooner or later. Yet while movies and other popular media may have already given you a romanticized idea of what sort of criminal activity that this may be, do you actually know what it is? The term was originally used to provide a distinction between classes of criminals, with "white collar" referring to people of a higher social status, and "blue collar" used in referenced to those from lower classes. With such distinctions having since become antiquated, the term white collar crime now refers specifically to fraudulent actions involving business and government professionals.

This leads to the question of whether you could have potentially committed such a crime. Common types of white collar criminal activity include:

  •          Tax violations
  •          Identity theft
  •          Money laundering
  •          Wire fraud
  •          Insider trading
  •          Bank and mortgage fraud

Such actions are typically well-defined, and thus (at least by the interpretation of some) easy for you to avoid if you have no intent to defraud. Yet could your actions as an employee of a company also be considered white collar crime?

The Federal Bureau of Investigation recognizes dealing with corporate fraud as being among its highest priorities. It classifies such crime as being any actions meant to deceive stakeholders as to the true financial condition of an organization. This can be done by altering financial data indicating your company's performance, manipulating its valuation measurements, or attempting to alter share prices.

Again, however, intent should be proven before charging you with a crime. If you were simply executing a directive given by company managers or leaders without knowing its ultimate purpose, that may qualify as an acceptable defense against such charges.

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