The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines white collar crime as “The full range of frauds committed by business and government professionals.” While many consider these victimless crimes, if someone is making money through fraud, they are doing it at the expense of someone else. These are some common types of white collar crime:
- Avoiding taxes: Cheating the tax office is seen by some as a game. Yet, when a company elaborates schemes to reduce or avoid taxes, the public loses. Taxes pay for our schools, our roads and many other things.
- Money laundering: Funds earnt through illegal activities are eased into the banking system via one or more legal companies, used as fronts. A business that survives in a high rent area for years, despite having no customers every time you pass, could indicate its real purpose.
- Pyramid and Ponzi schemes: Both are illegal. If you think they are harmless, consider that investors lost a combined $65 billion in the biggest Ponzi scheme ever discovered.
- Corporate fraud: Fudging the figures can hide the true value of a company and cheat shareholders, investors and others out of what they should receive.
- Embezzlement: This means someone is stealing money from their employer or from someone who has entrusted them with funds. People sometimes resort to it when in a difficult financial situation, excusing it as “borrowing” the money. However, it is illegal, whether they intend to pay it back or not.
It is easy to become an unwitting accomplice in a white collar crime, especially if you hold a financial role in a company. Do not be afraid to question something if it arouses your suspicion. Turning a blind eye or failing to consider the legality of what your boss asks you to do could result in criminal charges.