When most people think of white-collar crime, they think of large-scale crimes undertaken by high-ranking bankers and other powerful finance industry professionals. This impression is not necessarily wrong, but it is a bit inaccurate. White-collar crime can in fact occur in many different industries, on many different scales.
It can also encompass a wide range of activities. Generally, any financially-motivated crime that uses deception can be included under the umbrella of white-collar crime. These are four of the most common examples.
Fraud is a general term for crimes that use deception for financial gain. Fraud involves making a false statement, misrepresenting crucial information or otherwise deceiving someone financially. While fraud can occur in person, it often takes place through the mail, internet or phone.
Embezzlement occurs when someone uses their position of responsibility to steal money. This type of white-collar crime usually takes place in an employment setting. Embezzlement can take many forms, but it usually occurs when a trusted employee surreptitiously takes money from their employer.
When someone avoids paying the full amount of taxes that they owe, it is considered criminal tax evasion. Tax evasion is different from unwittingly making a mistake on one’s tax returns. Tax evasion is when someone willfully underpays taxes. It can range from filling in a tax form with false information, illegally transferring property or underreporting income.
Another common white-collar crime is money laundering. Money laundering is the act of concealing the origin of money that was obtained illegally in order to make it seem legitimate. In money laundering, one or more people will typically deposit ill-gotten money in a financial institution and then filter it through several complex channels and integrate it into everyday transactions.