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Florida White Collar Crime Defense Lawyer

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White-collar crimes often receive a glamorous portrayal. Nevertheless, people convicted of white-collar offenses are often sentenced to federal prison and required to pay hefty fines. If you or someone you know may be under investigation or formally charged for a white-collar offense, the time to seek legal protection is now. We represent defendants in a variety of white-collar crime cases. Don’t put your case at risk by choosing the wrong Florida white collar crime defense lawyer. Joffe Law will give your case the effort and attention it deserves.

White collar crimes vs. other offenses

The term “white collar crime” originated in the late 1930s when a criminologist and sociologist used the term to describe offenses that are most likely to be committed by “high-status” individuals. The perpetrators of white collar offenses are often:

  • business executives
  • government officials
  • people founded or operate charitable organizations
  • public figures
  • other professionals

Most white-collar offenses are non-violent in nature. They often involve an element of fraud or a financial scheme. Some examples of white-collar crimes are:

  • money Laundering
  • fraud
  • embezzlement
  • bribery
  • insider Trading
  • racketeering (RICO statute violations)
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The motivation for white-collar crime is most often financial. In addition to potentially being sentenced to time in prison, people who are convicted on white-collar criminal charges are often ordered to pay fines to the court and restitution to the victims of the crime.

White-collar crimes often overlap. Therefore, defendants who are accused of one white-collar crime will often face other related charges. Below, we will discuss some of the most common white-collar offenses.

Money laundering

Money laundering is the process by which people who have engaged in other criminal acts for financial gain “clean” and reintroduce the criminal proceeds back into the mainstream money supply. Not only can the people who are engaged in the criminal activity to generate the illegal money be charged with money laundering, but others who participate in the process may also face criminal charges.

The money laundering process occurs in stages. The goal of each stage is to further obscure the money from its illegal origins. At each step, money launderers recruit others, including their own friends and family members, to help them complete transactions to create the appearance of legitimacy.

Placement

During the first stage of the money laundering process, known as the placement stage, money launderers are most vulnerable. At this point, individuals and criminal organizations have made money from engaging in criminal activity. Their first major task is to inject the money into the mainstream financial system without drawing suspicion. The launderers commonly “wash” the money by placing it into foreign bank accounts. In some cases, money launderers physically smuggle the money across international borders.

Smurfing is another common form of placing illegal money. This strategy involves dividing up a large sum of money into smaller amounts. The launderers deposit the money into one or more bank accounts in smaller, less suspicious transactions. Because the deposit amounts are usually well under the reporting threshold, banks are less likely to flag the activity and investigate. Money launderers often enlist others to make the transactions over an extended period of time to further divert attention from the laundering process.

Crime organizations use invoicing as a way to place their illegal proceeds into the money supply. The organizations make deliberate invoicing errors by overbilling, undercharging, or falsely describing goods and services. The invoices create the appearance of a legitimate cause for the organization to be making transactions. In reality, no goods or services are being exchanged.

Layering

The second step in the money laundering process is the layering phase. Layering consists of a complex series of transactions that are intended to further conceal the money’s origins. Placement often involves illegal means of putting the illegal proceeds into the money supply. During the layering stage, the process shifts to the use of legal transactions. For example, the criminals may purchase stocks, invest in shell companies or businesses owned by people they know, buy cryptocurrency, or transfer the money through legitimate means.

Integration

Integration is the final stage in the money laundering process. It’s during this phase that the money launderer integrates the money back into the main money supply. At this point, criminals can use the money however they like because it appears to come from a legitimate source. By the time dirty money reaches the integration stage, it is very difficult for law enforcement agencies to distinguish illegal proceeds from money that comes from a perfectly legal income or revenue stream.

White collar fraud cases

White-collar fraud offenses involve a deceptive scheme that generally has the end goal of obtaining money, property, or anything that is of value. Fraud victims can be the government, businesses, non-profit organizations, and everyday people. Keep reading to learn more about some of the most common types of fraud offenses.

Mortgage Fraud

When any party in the mortgage process intentionally misrepresents a material fact, the deceptive party may be charged with mortgage fraud. There are two distinct categories of mortgage fraud: fraud for profit and fraud for housing. Industry insiders are most often the perpetrators of fraud for profit. In most fraud-for-profit cases, industry professionals use insider knowledge to use their specialized knowledge to steal cash and equity from homeowners and lenders.

Fraud-for-housing cases involve mortgage applicants providing false information to illegally obtain or maintain ownership of a residential property. Examples of fraud for housing include falsifying assets and misstating income to qualify for a larger loan.

Bank fraud

State and federal laws classify virtually any deceptive act for monetary gain that involves a banking institution as bank fraud. The broad definition of bank fraud encompasses numerous criminal offenses. The general nature of bank fraud allows prosecutors to charge defendants with a variety of related offenses. As a result, someone who faces a bank fraud accusation may potentially be charged with several related crimes and sentenced to many years in prison. Retaining a personal criminal defense attorney can prevent wrongful conviction and possibly minimize sentencing if a court finds the defendant guilty.

Joffe law represents criminal court defendants in bank fraud cases. We’ve listed below some of the different types of bank fraud cases we encounter.

Identity Theft and Impersonation

Advancements in digital technology have given fraudsters more ways to access consumers’ personal information and obtain payment cards and billing accounts in other people’s names. Identity thieves look for specific types of personal information including:

  • name
  • date of birth
  • Social Security number
  • address
  • driver’s license number
  • account numbers

Once the fraudster obtains enough personal information, he or she can access a customer’s existing accounts or open new accounts. Identity thieves open credit cards and store accounts in other people’s names to make fraudulent purchases and, in some cases, withdraw cash. Some criminal organizations are made up of individuals who work together to conduct identity theft rings. Even if you don’t steal someone’s personal information, you may be charged with a crime if you knowingly receive proceeds from identity theft or support an ID theft operation.

Identity theft can occur in a variety of ways. Prior to internet technology, ID thieves accessed personal information by stealing purses, wallets, and pieces of mail from mailboxes. Telemarketing schemes also yielded results if the fraudster could induce the call recipient to divulge personal information. Today, identity theft rings often use more advanced means of capturing personal information.

Phishing

Phishing occurs when a fraudster pretends to be a legitimate banking institution and sends a fake email or text message to potential victims. The message from the fraudster usually contains an urgent warning that calls for the recipient to log into his or her financial account. In addition to the warning, the email contains a link that directs the recipient to what appears to be a banking institution’s website. The website is actually a fake page the scammers have created to resemble a bank’s website. When the potential victim clicks the link and logs into the website, the fake site will either record the log-in credentials or install a virus on the email recipient’s device. The fraudster can retrieve the stolen log-in credentials and access the victim’s account without authorization.

Loan fraud

Because most loans are issued by financial institutions, an individual who provides false information when applying for a loan may also be charged with bank fraud. Loan fraud occurs if someone intentionally misrepresents a material face when applying for a loan. Examples of material misrepresentations include:

  • misstating income
  • misstating assets
  • using a fake name
  • using a fake Social Security Number
  • falsifying employment details
  • concealing the intended recipient’s identity

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Small Business Administration rolled out the Paycheck Protection Program and streamlined the lending process for small businesses. The fast-tracked application process and the government’s swift onboarding of third-party loan processors opened the door to widespread fraud. In the following years, the federal government identified and prosecuted certain individuals and organizations that fraudulently obtained PPP loans. If you or your organization is under investigation for PPP loan fraud, contact us.

Embezzlement

Embezzlement can occur within government agencies, private businesses, and non-profit organizations. The simplest form of embezzlement occurs when a cashier or bookkeeper pockets cash that belongs to his or her employer. In another example, a valet who arranges to have a customer’s vehicle stolen for personal gain has embezzled a car. On a larger scale, a politician who uses tax revenue to build a vacation home will likely come under scrutiny for embezzling tax dollars. Anytime someone who is in a position of trust takes money or property and interferes with ownership, the individual may be charged with embezzlement.

Bribery

One of the most familiar white collar crimes is bribery. The simplest example of bribery occurs when a child offers a valued item in exchange for his or her sibling’s silence after damaging a household item. However, the penalties are much more severe when the parties involved are government officials. Bribery is a criminal offense when a public figure solicits or receives money or anything else of value in exchange for taking a desired course of action or inaction. For example, the public official who issues liquor licenses may be charged with bribery if he or she requests or receives a bribe to expedite licensing for a restaurant that will be opening soon. Not only can the official be charged with bribery, but an individual who offers a bribe may also be charged without regard to whether the official accepts the bribe.

Insider trading

Insider trading surged as a mainstream topic of interest when a federal court sentenced famed TV personality and home furnishings brand owner Martha Stewart to prison. To prevent people who work for certain companies from having an unfair advantage, those who have access to confidential information are prohibited by law from trading the company’s stocks. An individual may be charged with insider trading if he or she uses information to make stock market trades. In some cases, it may appear insider trading has taken place; however, the individual never received the information. In cases that involve people who don’t actually work for the company, the individual may receive information without knowing the information was confidential.

RICO statute violations

In 1970, Congress enacted the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. To date, 33 states have followed by enacting their own racketeering statutes. Most state RICO statutes mirror the federal law. An individual may be charged with racketeering if investigators believe the person is involved in a racket. A racket is an organized business scheme that is designed to generate an illegal profit. Racketeering occurs when an individual participates in a scheme that involves two or more related crimes within a specific period of time. In order to obtain a conviction in a racketeering case, prosecutors must prove the defendant was involved in a racket and that the offenses occurred within the statute of limitations, in close enough proximity to each other, and in relation to the racket.

The professionals at Joffe Law will give your case the attention it deserves. We represent everyday people who find themselves in challenging legal situations. Contact us today to speak with a white collar crimes defense lawyer.

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