For many people, the term “white collar” brings up mental images of the USA Network television series that aired from 2009-2015. In the show, the suave con artist Neal Caffrey works with the FBI to catch white-collar criminals as part of an untraditional work-release program.
While the show did a good job of introducing people to the idea of white collar crimes, after 6 seasons it barely scratched the surface. Sure, maybe antitrust violations aren’t as “TV sexy” as insider trading and corporate espionage, but it is important for people to know about all kinds of white-collar crimes that exist.
So what are some examples of white-collar crimes? Common types include:
- antitrust violations
- bankruptcy fraud
- computer and internet fraud
- credit card fraud
- economic espionage and trade secret theft
- environmental law violations
- financial institution fraud
- government fraud
- healthcare fraud
- insider trading
- insurance fraud
- intellectual property theft/piracy
- mail fraud
- money laundering
- securities fraud
- tax evasion
- phone and telemarketing fraud
- public corruption
Top 3 Famous White Collar Crime Cases
By definition, white collar crimes are typically committed by people of high social status and respectability. As a result, in the last century there have been several white collar cases that have rocked the country. Here are three doozies you may recall:
1. Enron. This Houston based energy company, at one point considered the 7th largest company in the U.S., fabricated profits and used dishonest accounting practices to conceal millions of dollars of debt from investors.
2. Bernie Madoff. Bernie milked $800 million from investors by promising massive returns – a classic Ponzi scheme that landed him a 150-year in jail sentence.
3. Bernard Ebbers. While acting as CEO of WorldCom, Bernard defrauded his company of $11 billion and is considered the 10th most corrupt CEO in history. Not a title to brag about, especially from his jail cell where he is serving a 25-year sentence.
Other notable white collar cases in recent decades include:
- Tyco International
- Jack Abramoff
- Charles Ponzi (ever heard of the “Ponzi scheme”?)
- John Rigas
- Martin Frankel
- Jerome Kerviel
- Aviv Mizrahi