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What is a white-collar crime?

On Behalf of | Jul 12, 2023 | Criminal Law

White-collar crime is a term that is often a bit confusing. It encompasses a wide range of non-violent but serious criminal offenses. To make matters worse, many people disagree on what white-collar crime means and what constitutes these crimes.

The most accepted definition of white-collar crime is a non-violent crime for financial gain. There are different types of white-collar offenses and many are classified as felonies.

Money laundering

In a nutshell, money laundering is illegally hiding the location of money acquired from illegal means. It is often done to:

  • Hide wealth
  • Avoid arrest and prosecution
  • Avoid taxes
  • Fund criminal activity

Security and investment fraud

The most common types of security and investment fraud are scams, such as pyramid schemes and variations of the Nigerian letter scheme, or emails sent to illicit money from people.

Intellectual property theft

This offense involves stealing ideas, inventions, innovations and other creations from companies or individuals. It is sometimes called corporate espionage, in which proprietary information relating to a business is stolen and sold for profit.

Mortgage fraud

This offense involves an individual who lies about information relating to the procurement of a mortgage. Manipulating a property’s value, is one example.


Embezzlement occurs with different business entities and sizes, from Fortune 500 corporate entities to small businesses. The offense occurs when an employee steals money from a business while employed by that business. This can result in massive financial losses.


Forgery involves copying a document, signature, artwork or contract for financial gain. Forgers do this to gain access to everything from bank accounts to identities.