White collar crime is a general term that describes a type of nonviolent crime. While these offenses at times get less attention from the media than violent crime, they can have an enormous impact on individuals and the economy as a whole.
There are state white collar crime laws that are utilized by District Attorneys in each county throughout the state of Texas. For larger scale white collar crime, the federal government is more likely to get involved.
White collar crime often occurs at the highest levels of business. While the amount of money involved can be enormous, these offenses are often carried out by people in positions of trust. Some of the most white collar crimes most often pursued by federal prosecutors include:
Mortgage Fraud in Houston, TX
Mortgage fraud involves the use of deception or misrepresentation to defraud another person or entity during a real estate transaction. This type of fraud typically centers on misrepresentations made to lenders in order to obtain a loan. Either party involved in this transaction could commit fraud. Lenders might include fraudulent data in their application to obtain a loan above their income level. Meanwhile, a loan officer could commit fraud to recover a bonus for completing a bad loan.
This type of fraud does not always result in the overvaluing of a property. In some cases, a homeowner might commit fraud to lower the value of a home for tax purposes.
Bank Fraud in Houston, TX
Bank fraud is the general term for fraudulently obtaining something of value from a financial institution. This type of fraud could target assets owned by the bank or held by the institution on the owner's behalf. Bank fraud often involves forged documents, including checks, account applications, or powers of attorney. Some charges of bank fraud involve actions by the bank itself, including misrepresenting whether certain deposits are insured when they are not.
Many acts of bank fraud have nothing to do with the institutions themselves. They often occur online, where fraudsters use technology to obtain a person's banking information. Once they recover this identifying information, they could access that person's accounts. In other cases, they could use this banking information to obtain loans in the name of the victim.
Securities Fraud in Houston, TX
Securities fraud, also referred to as investment fraud, is any deceptive practice relating to the exchange of stocks or other commodities. Often, this form of fraud involves inducing investors to buy into a stock or other commodities using deceptive information. In some cases, this could involve intentionally pushing bad investments that directly enrich the defendant.
Other forms of securities fraud occur at the hands of stockbrokers. Embezzlement can occur when a stockbroker fails to invest funds in the market, instead of pocketing them. The fraud continues when the stockbroker informs their client that their assets were lost in the market.
Securities fraud is one of the broadest forms of white collar crime. Charges of this crime could be appropriate for behavior that has nothing directly to do with the sale of stocks if the intention was to manipulate the market. This type of corporate misconduct could include the use of dummy corporations and other fraudulent schemes.
Conspiracy / RICO Charges in Houston, TX
Conspiracy and RICO charges involve large-scale agreements to commit a crime. These charges actually fall under two separate federal laws. First, prosecutors rely on the general federal conspiracy statute in some cases. In others, these prosecutors will pursue racketeering charges under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).
The RICO Act was initially designed to target organized crime in the 1970s. These charges often focused on rackets designed to extort money for businesses and individuals. The RICO Act is not limited to organized crime in the traditional sense, however. This act is used to pursue anyone who pulls the strings behind a criminal operation but never commits the acts of extortion on their own. The penalties for RICO charges are the steepest of any white collar crime, with a life sentence possible in some cases.
Mail Fraud in Houston TX
The use of the United States Mail to devise or carry out a scheme to defraud a person or entity is known as mail fraud. Mail fraud is one of the oldest forms of fraud covered by federal law, with statutes in place outlawing it since 1872.
Mail fraud often combines with other types of white collar crime. For example, a person could violate the mail fraud statute if their attempt to commit mortgage fraud involves the use of the mail system.
Mail fraud can also involve crimes unique to the use of the mail system. In addition to the traditional definition of fraud, mail fraud may also cover acts that violate the norms of public policy. Any attempt by mail that deals so unfairly with a consumer that a court could find it to be reasonably calculated to deceive a prudent, cautious target could result in mail fraud charges.
Work with a Houston White Collar Crime Defense Attorney
The job of proving white collar crimes is not a simple one. Federal prosecutors must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant intentionally committed one of the acts described above. There is a wide array of potential defenses available in these cases, any one of which could lead to an acquittal. These defenses could include a lack of evidence, use of false testimony, mistakes, or even the use of unlawful searches or seizures.
If you have been accused of a federal white collar crime in Houston, Board Certified Houston attorney Doug Murphy could help you defend yourself. While a conviction for a white collar crime can carry steep penalties, those penalties will never take effect if you beat the charges against you.
After years of experience defending the accused, Doug Murphy has developed a reputation as a fierce litigator that is never intimidated by the federal government. If you have questions about your defense options, a free case evaluation with Doug Murphy could provide you with the answers. To learn more, call the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. right away to schedule your no-obligation case evaluation.