Every night, thousands of Americans enjoy watching crime shows on television. They are interested to see how police follow the clues to catch a burgler or murderer. However, these shows don’t often depict another kind of crime: white-collar crime. The Bureau of Justice Statistics defines white-collar crime as any violation of law that occurs through nonviolent means – often centering around fraud.

Three of the most common white-collar crimes are

  • Corporate fraud
  • Embezzlement
  • Ponzi schemes

Corporate fraud

The FBI puts a lot of emphasis on investigating corporate fraud because of how it can impact the U.S. economy and investor confidence. Many corporate fraud cases center around accounting schemes, where the true financial condition of a company is misrepresented to deceive investors, auditors or financial analysts.

Corporate fraud can include the following:

  • Falsifying financial accounting
  • Fraudulent trades to inflate profits or hide losses
  • Illicit transactions, made to evade regulatory oversight
  • Insider trading
  • Misuse of corporate money for personal gain
  • Kickbacks


Embezzlement crimes happen when people misappropriate assets entrusted to them. For example, the treasurer of a youth sports organization uses payment fees to fund a lavish vacation or shopping sprees. Embezzlement also can occur if a political candidate uses campaign dollars for personal expenses.

Ponzi schemes

Ponzi schemes are investment frauds. Ponzi schemes operate when fraudsters lure investors with the promise of high returns with little risk. Then, they attract even more new investors so they can pay out prior investors. Eventually, Ponzi schemes crumble because they can’t attract enough new investors to pay earlier investors. One of the largest recent Ponzi schemes was when New York financier Bernie Madoff defrauded investors of more than $60 million over two decades from the late 1980s until 2008.

For business leaders facing white-collar charges, the charges can cause the public to lose trust in your business operations. You can lose customers and clients. Without the help of an attorney, you also easily can make statements to police that further hurt your case. White-collar criminal charges are serious. You need to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney to get the best outcome.