The term white collar crime generally encompasses a variety of nonviolent crimes usually committed in commercial situations for financial gain.
The most common white-collar offenses include: antitrust violations, computer and internet fraud, credit card fraud, phone and telemarketing fraud, bankruptcy fraud, health care fraud, environmental law violations, insurance fraud, mail fraud, government fraud, tax evasion, financial fraud, securities fraud, insider trading, bribery, kickbacks, counterfeiting, public corruption, money laundering, embezzlement, economic espionage and trade secret theft.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, white-collar crime is estimated to cost the United States more than $300 billion annually. Although typically the government charges individuals for white-collar crimes, the government has the power to sanction corporations as well for these offenses. The penalties for white-collar offenses include fines, home detention, community confinement, paying the cost of prosecution, forfeitures, restitution, supervised release, and imprisonment. However, sanctions can be lessened if the defendant takes responsibility for the crime and assists the authorities in their investigation.
Many white-collar crimes are especially difficult to prosecute because the perpetrators use sophisticated means to conceal their activities through a series of complex transactions. Any defenses available to non-white-collar defendants in criminal court are also available to those accused of white-collar crimes. A common refrain of individuals or organizations facing white-collar criminal charges is the defense of entrapment.
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