Common White Collar Crimes and Their Penalties

If you’ve ever seen the television show Arrested Development or the movie Wall Street, there’s a good chance you understand a little bit about white collar crime. Simply put, white collar crime is crime that occurs in business dealings. These crimes seem victimless to some, but often they come at the cost of people’s livelihoods and can ruin business reputations.

In this brief article, a Tampa white collar criminal defense attorney with The Rickman Law Firm shares a few of the most common white collar crimes and their penalties. As a reminder, white collar crimes are typically federal crimes and may fall under the jurisdiction of several bureaus.

Money Laundering

Money laundering is the act of making dirty laundry appear clean. For a more technical definition, according to the FBI, money laundering is the process by which criminals conceal or disguise their proceeds and make them appear to have come from legitimate sources. This allows guilty parties to hide wealth they have accumulated from untoward or illegal means and avoid taxes, prosecution, and other consequences of reporting while giving them a way to illegally increase profit and the ability to invest in other illegal activities.

The origin of this money can be tied to other (often non-white-collar) crimes, which carry serious consequences of their own. These may include:

  • Complex financial crimes
  • Health care fraud
  • Human trafficking
  • International and domestic public corruption
  • Narcotics trafficking
  • Terrorism

There are a variety of penalties for money laundering, but the most common is jail time, restitution payments, fines, and community service. However, your sentence is more likely to carry steeper fines and longer jail time if the money laundering ties you to other serious crimes.

Pyramid Schemes

Sometimes called a Ponzi Scheme, a pyramid scheme often involves the recruitment of several people below you in order to make more and more money for a false or nonexistent company.

The technical definition of a ponzi scheme is “a form of fraud in which belief in the success of a nonexistent enterprise is fostered by the payment of quick returns to the first investors from money invested by later investors.”

This form of fraud lures investors and pays profits to earlier investors with funds from more recent investors. The scheme leads victims to believe that profits are coming from product sales or other means, and they remain unaware that other investors are the source of funds. In many instances, these schemes are veiled as legitimate businesses or “multi-level marketing” companies. Running a ponzi scheme is a federal crime and is investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).


Embezzlement is the fraudulent appropriation of property by a person to whom such property has been entrusted, or into whose hands it has lawfully come. In other words, stealing from your company in order to cover personal financial needs is embezzlement. This seems like a victimless crime, but in reality, it can carry steep consequences, especially if people were harmed in the process. You may face jail time, restitution payments, fines, and more.

The most important thing to do if you have been accused of a white collar crime, or any crime for that matter, is to contact a white collar defense attorney in Tampa with The Rickman Law Firm. The skilled legal team at The Rickman Law Firm will help you understand the best defense for your specific case and will investigate the case on your behalf. We have years of experience working with cases just like yours and will be able to pursue all necessary evidence and witnesses to obtain a favorable outcome. Our attorneys will not only look into the event, but will also examine the arrest to determine if your rights were violated.

For a free consultation with a Tampa white collar defense attorney, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.


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