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What do you think of when you hear names like Enron Corporation, Countrywide Mortgage or AIG?

These scandals made headlines, even history, for the intensely deceptive business and financial practices in which these companies were engaged. Another element these crimes had in common? They all involved white-collar crimes.

Most of us have heard the term, but what exactly is white-collar crime? What repercussions can you face for committing this type of crime in South Carolina?

If you find yourself at risk of facing charges for a white-collar crime, it’s important that you know the facts. We’ll start with the basics and then delve into the details of what exactly classifies a crime as “white collar.”

The Basics

When we to turn to the law books, we find that the primary elements of a white collar crime are that it is: (1) a nonviolent, (2) financially motivated offense (3) committed by a business or government professional (4) committed through deceit. In short, it’s when someone who works in an office environment uses dishonesty for his or her personal financial benefit.

The most common types of white-collar crimes include fraud, money laundering and embezzlement.

Anyone charged with a white-collar crime (or at risk of being charged with one) should know that these types of crimes are categorized as criminal and offenders could be looking at prison time—possibly significant.

Types of White-Collar Crime:

Now that we’ve identified the basics of white-collar crime, let’s look into the different types of crimes that are categorized this way.


Put simply, fraud means bait and switch—when you knowingly misrepresent the truth to gain financially. There are numerous sub-categories each sharing the common factor of deceit.

Check Fraud

Check fraud is when you write a check to a business or individual, knowing your account has insufficient funds to cover the check. It’s a promise that you know at the time you can’t keep, but you make it anyway.

Credit Card Fraud

When you use a revoked credit card or obtain/use someone else’s credit card or credit card numbers fraudulently, you’ve committed credit card fraud. This type of fraud is most common with online transactions.

Securities Fraud

Say you own shares in a company that’s publicly traded on the stock market. And you learn information that suggests the company’s stock is about to plummet, so you sell a large chunk of your holdings before you lose money on these shares. This concept is known as insider trading, which is a type of securities fraud.

Another example of securities fraud is when a company’s ownership or management misrepresents corporate information to lure investors into investing or purchasing shares. This type of actionable misinformation includes:

  • purposely inflating the company’s profit and loss statements
  • misrepresenting facts in a favorable light in public filings

Bank Fraud

This type of fraud can be a federal crime and involves deceiving a financial institution (such as a bank or credit union) for your own profit. This crime includes activities such as check kiting, stealing checks from other people or using stolen or misinformation to open bank accounts or obtain loans.

Wire Fraud

Wire fraud, a federal crime, refers to a range of financial offenses in which a person utilizes the telephone, the internet or other interstate (that is, across state lines) communications to carry out his or her crime. Common types of wire fraud include phishing/email scams.

Mail Fraud

As the name implies, mail fraud is when you commit fraud using physical mail, including the USPS and private carriers like FedEx. Mail fraud is also a federal crime.

Tax Evasion

Tax evasion is another extremely broad category of white collar crimes, referring to any attempt to deprive the government of revenue you would otherwise owe.

Examples include falsifying information on tax returns or transferring property to avoid paying taxes. Both individuals and organizations can commit this crime.


When you steal money from someone you work for or owe a financial duty (such as a business partner), you’re embezzling funds.

For example, if your employer trusts you with his bank accounts and each month you transfer a portion into your account without his knowledge, you’re embezzling.


Counterfeiting is more than just fake $20 bills; it refers to any illicit knock-off. When you manufacture or distribute a cheaper imitation of a brand or product familiar to customers and charge a lower price for it, you’re engaging in counterfeiting.

Money Laundering

A person could be charged with money laundering if he or she illegally obtained funds and made the funds look like they were obtained using legal means. In other words, it’s the act of making dirty money look clean and it’s a federal crime.

Speak with an attorney today.

Although white collar crime is not classified as a violent crime, its penalties can be severe, long-term and life-altering.

If you or someone you know is facing or at risk of facing charges for such a crime, don’t leave your fate to chance. You’ll need an experienced attorney who understands the nuances of these crimes and knows how to develop a strong defense for you. Get a free consultation from Kent Collins by calling 803-808-0905 or completing our online form.

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