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3 White-Collar Crimes for the Average Joe

By Lisa M. Schaffer, Esq. | Last updated on

White-collar crimes earned their nickname because they were crimes committed by business executives and people of high social status in the workplace who wore white collared shirts to the office. But high crimes are no longer just a playground for the rich. Here's a list of three white-collar crimes that are no longer limited to white collars.

Tax Evasion

By definition, the greatest tax evaders should be some of the world's wealthiest executives. After all, the most common way to run up a high tax bill is a high salary. Leona Helmsley, a billionaire, was convicted of tax fraud. She delighted in evading taxes, once telling an employee "We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes." But in today's world, bread-winning tax-cheaters don't necessarily show up to work in a white collared dress shirt. Prime examples of modern day tax evaders include Chuck Berry, Daryl Strawberry, and small-time drug dealers.

Stealing Trade Secrets

At one time, only the most executive members of a company had access to a company's trade secrets. Now, any employee with some level of hacking experience or access to internal databases can steal a wide variety of trade secrets.

Of recent note is Xiaolang Zhang, a hardware engineer who allegedly stole Apple's self-driving car trade secrets as he was leaving the company to work for a competitor. The only time a hardware engineer wears a white collar would be to a parent's funeral. Beware of the disgruntled or departing employee -- check surveillance footage early and often!

Money Laundering

Money laundering is a method by which to "clean" dirty money, or money that was acquired through illegal activities. Banks get suspicious if, say, an unemployed individual came in with $500,000 in cash, looking to open an account. It's best if the money appears to have been earned by legal means. Mobsters are considered the original money launderers. Al Capone laundered an estimated $1 billion through various businesses, including, ironically, laundromats. (As a cash operated business, these were very efficient money laundering businesses!)

Interestingly, Al Capone was ultimately arrested on Tax Evasion charges. Fast forward to 2016, where a Macon, Georgia, grocery store manager was sentenced for a $5.1 million food stamp laundering scheme, that transpired over a 5 year period, which exchanged food stamps for cash to buy non-allowed grocery items.

If you have been accused of a white-collar crime, contact a local white collar criminal defense attorney in your area. He or she will listen to your facts and determine the best course of action for your defense.

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