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Common White-Collar Crimes

Common White-Collar Crimes

Thanks to crime dramas and gangster movies, you’ve probably heard of embezzlement, extortion, bribery, and Ponzi schemes, but do you know what these crimes are and how they are committed? For many people, the answer is no, which is why we made a list of some of the most common white-collar crimes.

Defining White-Collar Crimes

The term white-collar crime (WCC) was reportedly coined by Edwin Sutherland in 1939 to refer to “crimes committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation.” However, the term grew to represent much more than crimes committed by powerful individuals.

As stated on the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) white-collar crime webpage, the modern definition of white-collar crimes is “Crimes characterized by deceit, concealment, or violation of trust (…). The motivation behind these crimes is financial—to obtain or avoid losing money, property, or services or to secure a personal or business advantage.”

However, the best way to learn about WCC is to examine some of the most common crimes included in this category.

Common Examples of White-Collar Crimes


Embezzlement is when someone who was entrusted with personal property steals some or all of the property. Embezzlement is a lot like theft, but the main difference is that the property is controlled or legally accessed by the thief before it is stolen. As an example, an embezzlement crime is similar to when delivery drivers steal some of the product they are supposed to deliver.

Occupations often associated with embezzlement charges include:

  • Bank tellers;
  • Store clerks;
  • Office managers;
  • Accountants;
  • Financial managers; and
  • Stockbrokers.


Bribery is when someone offers, gives, solicits, or receives any item of value as a means of influencing the actions of an individual with a public or legal duty. Acts of bribery can lead people to make decisions that are biased towards bribers when they should have been made objectively.

Common examples of bribery include:

  • Bribing a public official to win a contract, receive a license, or circumvent red tape.
  • Channeling bribes to win contracts for consultants.
  • Bribing foreign officials to impact foreign policies.
  • Employing someone for kickbacks or benefits;
  • Bribing doctors to prescribe a pharmaceutical company’s products.

Insider Trading

Insider trading is when people who have confidential or non-public information about companies buy and sell stocks of those companies. In other words, when employees or friends of employees use insider information to take advantage of the market.

Famous Inside Traders include:

  • Albert H. Wiggin: A prominent inside trader in the 1920s.
  • Ivan Boesky: A 1980s investor who bribed two men to get insider information.
  • R. Foster Winans: A columnist for the Wall Street Journal whose column swayed stock prices. Due to his power, Winans would share his column with people before it was published so they could buy and sell the stocks that would be affected.

Tax Evasion

Tax evasion is when a party uses illegal means to avoid paying taxes. Both individuals and corporations can commit tax evasion, and the federal government reportedly loses hundreds of billions of dollars every year from evasion.

Popular ways to evade taxes include:

  • Underreporting income;
  • Inflating deductions;
  • Hiding money in offshore accounts.

Have You Been Accused of White-Collar Crime?

If you have been accused of a white-collar crime, you have the right to defend your case. Whether you’ve been charged for embezzlement, bribery, insider trading, tax evasion, or another WCC, the Law Office of Kevin Cahill can represent you and your needs in the face of criminal charges.

Call (720) 548-2990 now for a free consultation for your case!

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