Can Only Businesspersons Be Charged With White-Collar Crimes?

businesspersons charged white collar crimes

If you were to watch The Wolf of Wall Street, Boiler Room, or Office Space, you would think that the only white-collar criminals were college-educated caucasian men. However, white-collar criminals come in all different shapes, sizes genders, and colors. The term businessperson is rather vague, but you generally have to work for a business and steal from a business to commit white-collar crime. 

Definition Of White Collar Crime 

White-collar crime encompasses a number of crimes that are generally done for financial gain in commercial situations. These crimes are often hard to prosecute. Whistleblowers are heavily relied upon to provide evidence in cases of white-collar crime. 

Punishment for white color criminals can range from fines to sanctions, to imprisonment. Corporate crime may be investigated and prosecuted by the state or federal government. 

Examples Of White Collar Crime 

There are several varieties of white-collar crime. Although you would not have to be a business person to commit most of them you would have to have some knowledge of technology and finances in order to successfully execute them. 


If a person offers or gives money or gifts to an official or a person who is in a position of authority in order to influence their actions, it is considered to be a bribe. A business owner may be charged with bribery if they give a congressperson a certain amount of money to vote in a way that would be advantageous to their business. 

Ponzi Schemes 

Many a blue-collar worker has fallen prey to a Ponzi scheme. This is a kind of fraud that promises huge dividends for a small investment. It pays profits to investors who have been around for a while with funds from more recent investors. The investors are considered to be the victims in this case because they are told that the profits come from the product rather than other investors. 

Insider Trading 

Insider trading is committed almost exclusively by business people and investment professionals. It takes place when a person buys or sells stocks based on inside information they have obtained working for a publicly-traded company. If you obtain inside information from a relative or friend who works for a company and you trade and you buy stocks or bonds based on that information, you may be charged with insider trading. 

Labor Racketeering 

Labor racketeering takes place when a labor union or other employee entity is infiltrated or exploited by management or an outside organization. It often is perpetrated by organized criminals Who have embezzled or extorted money from labor union members. These racketers can be charged with a crime and they are not necessarily business people. 

Forgery And Identity Theft 

You do not have to be a business person to forge someone's signature or to steal their identity. Both of these activities are considered white-collar crimes. Forgery involves falsifying documents or signing someone else's name on an official document. 

Identity theft is just what it sounds like. It generally entails taking out credit and making purchases in someone else's name. Identity thieves have been known to steal people's tax returns as well. 

What Happens To White Collar Criminals?

If a person who works in a business is caught committing a white-collar crime at that business, they can certainly be prosecuted. No matter who commits a white-collar crime in a business the higher officers in the company are generally considered culpable because of The “Responsible Corporate Officer” (RCO) doctrine. Officers are expected to know what is going on in their companies. 

If you have been accused of a white-collar crime, and wish to know your rights. You can read more here.

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