White Collar Crimes
What is a white-collar crime? White-collar crimes typically involve accusations of fraud or theft by a person of high social status committed during their employment while motivated by greed.
White-collar criminal offenses can include money laundering, theft, bribery, embezzlement, forgery, fraud, insurance fraud, mortgage fraud, health care fraud, or computer crimes.
Depending on the circumstances, even Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO) crimes or conspiracy to commit RICO crimes might be considered a white collar crime.
If you have been accused of a white-collar crime, seek the services of a criminal defense attorney before making any statements about the facts of the case to any law enforcement officer or other person investigating a criminal accusation.
For fraud investigations at the state level, many of these cases are investigated by local law enforcement agencies or detectives with the Department of Financial Services, Division of Investigative & Forensic Services.
Our attorneys are familiar with these types of cases. Before talking to a detective, seek a criminal defense attorney who can help you during every investigation phase.
Attorney for White Collar Crimes in Tampa, FL
At Sammis Law Firm, our criminal defense attorneys represent individuals charged with white-collar crimes throughout the Tampa Bay area, including Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, Polk County, Pasco County, Hernando County, Manatee County, and the surrounding areas.
The attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm in Tampa, FL, have represented many professional individuals, including business owners, doctors, accountants, lawyers, and real estate professionals in various serious white collar crime accusations.
Regarding corporate criminal liability, we represent individuals, operating employees and managers, and corporations.
Defending individuals charged with white collar crimes requires knowledge of complex transactional procedures and financial information.
For many white-collar crime accusations in Florida, we rely on some of the top financial expert witnesses, investigators, and forensic accountants in Tampa, FL, to give our clients the best chance of winning at trial or negotiating the best possible disposition before trial.
Contact us to discuss criminal accusations during a confidential consultation.
Types of White Collar Crimes in Florida
This article discusses the different kinds of crimes that are classified as a white-collar crime and the best defenses that apply to these types of charges.
We represent clients in the following types of white-collar crimes:
- Fraud and Conspiracy to Commit Fraud;
- Scheme to Defraud;
- Employee Theft or Embezzlement;
- Credit Card Fraud – the fraudulent use of a credit card through identity theft;
- Securities Fraud – involves telemarketing fraud and investment schemes, Ponzi schemes, and pyramid schemes;
- Bank Fraud – larceny, employee theft and embezzlement, forgery, mail fraud, money laundering, check kiting schemes;
- Insurance Fraud – staged automobile accidents, filing false insurance claims, PIP fraud, arson for a false insurance claim, and workers’ compensation claim fraud;
- The exploitation of an Elderly Person or Disabled Adult under F.S.§825.103;
- Complaint of Notary Public Misconduct or Falsely Taking or Receiving an Acknowledgment of a Signature on a Written Instrument under Florida Statute Section 117.05;
- Mortgage fraud – providing false information on mortgage documents; home flipping, straw purchases, land flipping;
- Health care fraud – allegations against doctors, nurses and other health care professionals, including fraudulent billing schemes, medicare theft and fraud, Medicaid fraud and Medicare theft, dental fraud, improper referral services between a clinic and a doctor;
- Florida Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO), and conspiracy to commit RICO.
Protecting the Lower Level Participant
The typical white-collar crime involves a sophisticated and complex scheme involving specialized or technical knowledge. Often these actions are hidden among other legitimate behavior.
The crimes are often not detected because the victims of the crimes are diffused among a larger group of people.
The mastermind of the criminal scheme often relies on lower-level employees to carry out the dirty work. Without the proper criminal defense representation, the lower-level participant may face the same type of prosecution, penalties, and punishment as the plan’s mastermind.
Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO) crimes and conspiracy to commit RICO charges set out blanket rules for assigning blame in white-collar cases, which are often irrational or unjust given the facts of a particular case.
Many people charged with white-collar crimes are respected in their community. Often the crimes begin because of an individual’s personal or professional financial difficulties.
White-collar crime often begins as a way to temporarily escape financial difficulty through fraudulent means.
Definition of White Collar Crimes in Florida
The term “white collar crimes” generally refers to financial crimes. Florida law also provides for a specific charge related to white collar crimes committed violating section 775.0844, Florida Statutes.
The White Collar Crime Victim Protection Act, Florida Statutes section 775.0844, addresses “white collar crime,” which includes a variety of offenses by which victims “are deceived and cheated by criminals who commit nonviolent frauds and swindles, frequently through the use of the Internet and other electronic technology and frequently causing the loss of substantial amounts of property.” § 775.0844(2), Fla. Stat.
A violation of Florida’s white collar crime statute requires proof of fraudulent conduct. See State v. Rubio, 917 So. 2d 383 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 5th Dist. 2005), decision aff’d in part, rev’d in part on other grounds, 967 So. 2d 768 (Fla. 2007), as revised on denial of reh’g, (Oct. 18, 2007).
The legislative intent in adopting the white collar crime statute was to “enhance sanctions imputed for nonviolent frauds and swindles, protect the public’s property, and assist in prosecuting white collar criminals.” § 775.0844(2).
The white collar crime statute is centered on prosecuting individuals who engage in a pattern of committing felony offenses involving fraud and deceit. See § 775.0844(4).
The definition of white collar crime can be found in Florida Statute Section 775.0844. It provides:
(3) As used in this section, “white collar crime” means:
(a) The commission of, or a conspiracy to commit, any felony offense specified in:
1. Chapter 560, relating to the Money Transmitters’ Code.
2. Chapter 812, relating to theft, robbery, and related crimes.
3. Chapter 815, relating to computer-related crimes.
4. Chapter 817, relating to fraudulent practices.
5. Chapter 825, relating to abuse, neglect, and exploitation of elderly persons and disabled adults.
6. Chapter 831, relating to forgery and counterfeiting.
7. Chapter 832, relating to the issuance of worthless checks and drafts.
8. Chapter 838, relating to bribery and misuse of public office.
9. Chapter 839, relating to offenses by public officers and employees.
10. Chapter 895, relating to offenses concerning racketeering and illegal debts.
11. Chapter 896, relating to offenses related to financial transactions.
(b) A felony offense that is committed with intent to defraud or that involves a conspiracy to defraud.
(c) A felony offense that is committed with intent to temporarily or permanently deprive a person of his or her property or that involves a conspiracy to temporarily or permanently deprive a person of his or her property.
(d) A felony offense that involves or results in the commission of fraud or deceit upon a person or that involves a conspiracy to commit fraud or deceit upon a person.
Definition of Aggravated White Collar Crime in Florida
Subsections (4) and (5) of section 775.0844 defines the term “aggravated white collar crime,” providing as follows:
(4) As used in this section, “aggravated white collar crime” means engaging in at least two white collar crimes [described in (3) ] that have the same or similar intents, results, accomplices, victims, or methods of commission, or that are otherwise interrelated by distinguishing characteristics and are not isolated incidents, provided that at least one of such crimes occurred after the effective date of this act.
(5) Any person who commits an aggravated white collar crime as defined in this section and in so doing either:
(a) Victimizes 10 or more elderly persons, as defined in s. 825.101(5);
(b) Victimizes 20 or more persons, as defined in s. 1.01; or
(c) Victimizes the State of Florida, any state agency, any of the state’s political subdivisions, or any agency of the state’s political subdivisions, and thereby obtains or attempts to obtain $50,000 or more, commits a felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
§ 775.0844(4)–(5), Fla. Stat.
Convictions for aggravated white collar crimes come with serious penalties. Aggravated white collar crimes are charged as a first degree felony and level nine offense.
As a level nine offense, an aggravated white collar crime is punishable by at least 48 months in prison for a first offense. A conviction might also require a fine of either $500,000 or double the value of the pecuniary gain or loss, whichever is greater.
Restitution in White Collar Crime Cases
After a conviction for aggravated white collar crime, the defendant is liable for all court costs and shall pay restitution to each victim, regardless of whether the victim is named in the charging document, information, or indictment.
“Victim” means a person directly and approximately harmed as a result of the commission of the offense for which restitution may be ordered, including any person directly harmed by the defendant’s criminal conduct in the course of the commission of the aggravated white collar crime.
The court must hold a restitution hearing to determine the identity of qualifying victims and shall order the defendant to pay restitution based on his or her ability to pay.
How Many Convictions Occur in Florida for White Collar Crimes?
In the fiscal year 2018-19, the Florida Department of Corrections reported only four (4) white-collar crime convictions.
On the other hand, the DOC reported more than 60,000 other types of white-collar crime convictions during the same period, including:
- 45,328 convictions for Theft, robbery, and related crimes (ch. 812, F.S.)
- 8,253 convictions for Fraudulent practices (ch. 817, F.S.)
- 5,315 convictions for Forgery and counterfeiting (ch. 831, F.S.)
- 570 convictions for Issuance of worthless checks and drafts (ch. 832, F.S.)
- 301 convictions for Abuse, neglect, and exploitation of elderly persons and disabled adults (ch. 825, F.S.)
- 224 convictions for Offenses concerning racketeering and illegal debts (ch. 895, F.S.)
- 205 convictions for Bribery and misuse of public office (ch. 838, F.S.)
- 93 convictions for Offenses related to financial transactions (ch. 896, F.S.)
- 63 convictions for Computer-related crimes (ch. 815, F.S.)
- 18 convictions for Offense Convictions Money services businesses offenses (ch. 560, F.S.)
- 14 convictions for Offenses by public officers and employees (ch. 839, F.S.)
White Color Crime for Exploitation of the Elderly
Florida law provides enhanced penalties under the White Collar Crime Victim Protection Act. See Section 775.0844, F.S.
In this context, “white collar crime” includes the commission of, or a conspiracy to commit, any felony offense specified in ch. 825, F.S., felony theft offenses under ch. 812, F.S., and various felony theft and fraud offenses. See Section 775.0844(3)(a)2., 4., 5., and 11., and (b)-(d), F.S.
A person commits an “aggravated white collar crime” if the person engages in at least two white collar crimes that have the same or similar intents, results, accomplices, victims, or methods of commission or that are otherwise interrelated by distinguishing characteristics and are not isolated incidents, provided that at least one of such crimes occurred after the effective date of this act. See Section 775.0844(4), F.S.
Crimes for exploiting the elderly are particularly harsh. Any person who commits an aggravated white collar crime and, in so doing, victimizes ten (10) or more elderly persons, as defined in Section 825.101, F.S., and thereby obtains or attempts to obtain $50,000 or more, commits a Level 9 first degree felony.
The penalties for such an offense include a fine of $500,000 or double the value of the pecuniary gain or loss, whichever is greater. Section 775.0844(5), F.S. In addition to the fine, the person is liable for all court costs and must pay restitution to each victim of the crime. Section 775.0844(7), F.S.
Florida Office of Statewide Prosecution (OSP)– The Office of Statewide Prosecution (OSP) in Florida was created in 1986 by the voters of Florida through a Constitutional Amendment to the state constitution. Many white-collar crimes in Florida are prosecuted by the OSP, which oversees organized crime cases that cover several different circuits throughout Florida, so the cases are not frustrated by judicial or geographic boundaries.
Statewide Prosecutor – Tampa Office Chief Assistant: Thomas Smith Concourse Center 4 3507 Frontage Road, Suite 200 Tampa, FL 33607 (813) 287-7960 Fax (813) 281-5520
Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) – The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) was established in by the US Department of Treasury to provide intelligence to support the investigation and prosecution of money laundering and other financial crimes. Money laundering involves disguising financial assets as coming from a legal source so they can be used without detecting the illegal activity that produced them.
Information from the FBI about Federal White Collar Crimes– FBI provides information on white-collar crimes such as antitrust, bankruptcy fraud, corporate and securities fraud, health care fraud, identity theft, insurance fraud, money laundering, mortgage fraud, and telemarketing fraud.
White Collar Crime Schemes – List of different types of white collar crime schemes along with an explanation of the offenses from the National Check Fraud Center, including Bank Fraud, Blackmail, Bribery, Cellular Phone Fraud, Computer Fraud, Counterfeiting, Credit Card Fraud, Currency Schemes, Embezzlement, Environmental Schemes, Extortion, Forgery, Health Care Fraud, Insider Trading, Insurance Fraud, Investment Schemes, Kickback, Money Laundering, Racketeering, and Tax Evasion.
National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) – Non-profit organization dedicated to helping and encouraging law enforcement investigations and prosecutions of high-tech, economic, and white collar crimes.
White Collar Crime Unit – The American Prosecutors Research Institute’s White Collar Crime Unit supports technical assistance and training to prosecutors for white collar crimes, including cybercrime, internet fraud, telemarketing fraud, and other white collar crime scams.
Forensic Accountants in Tampa, FL – Attorneys use forensic accountants to investigate what occurred in a financial setting, assess accounting systems, audit records to prove or disprove fraud, critique the conclusions of the prosecutor’s witnesses, furnish litigation support, and provide expert testimony at trial.
Florida Attorney Defending Those Accused of White Collar Crimes
If you are under investigation for any white collar crime, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Tampa at the Sammis Law Firm.
We help clients under investigation for insurance fraud or another type of white collar crime by a detective with the Department of Financial Services, Division of Investigative & Forensic Services, out of the Tampa Office.
If you are contacted by a law enforcement officer with a local police department, sheriff’s office, or government agency at the state or federal level about fraud, then contact us before making a statement.
We can represent you at every stage of the case, beginning when you are first contacted about the accusation. The attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm represent individuals charged with serious felony offenses, including theft, fraud, and embezzlement.
Call (813) 250-0500 for a free, confidential consultation today to discuss the particular facts of your case and the things you need to do today to protect yourself.
This article was updated on Monday, May 1, 2023.