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How does Florida define "white collar crime?"

Crimes can be loosely categorized as being of two types: violent and nonviolent. Those in the latter category, which often consist of a variety of ways of depriving others of money or property, include the kinds of crimes colloquially known as "white collar" crimes. The origin of the term may refer to the type of person who relies more on trying to deceive his victims rather than resorting to strong-arm methods.

White collar crimes often comprise variations of fraud committed against individuals, businesses and even the government. Other types of this crime include embezzlement and tax evasion schemes including money laundering.

 

The types of fraudulent activity that comprise white collar criminal activity are limited mainly by the imagination. Frauds have involved mortgages, investment securities, insurance, pyramid and "Ponzi" schemes, or offering fake money-making opportunities that require the victim to come up with a large up-front investment in exchange for nothing.

Florida historically had a reputation as a haven for perpetrators of white collar fraud. To combat this unwelcome distinction, the state government has enacted a law formally known as the White Collar Crime Victim Protection Act. The Act encompasses many activities, including:

  • Violation of specific statutory felony offenses, such as theft, fraud, computer crimes, counterfeiting, check fraud, racketeering; and
  • Other felony frauds that deprive people of their property or their money that are not addressed by other statutory laws.

The Act enhances the penalties for conviction, and also provides for aggravated white collar crimes for those who commit multiple crimes, or who victimize at least 10 people or the state or local governments. Aside from imprisonment, fines for aggravated crimes can be severe, up to $500,000 or twice the dollar value of the victim's loss or the ill-gotten gain, whichever is more, and probation is contingent on the making of restitution.

This post offers an introductory glimpse of the Act. It is lengthy and complex, and can be difficult to understand for anyone not experienced in criminal defense law. Anyone who has been accused of a white collar crime, or who wants to learn more about the Act, should consult with a licensed Florida attorney.

 

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