Both state and federal governments have passed laws that make computer fraud a crime. Seattle residents are probably familiar with terms like phishing and identity theft. Phishing is often the first step in a scheme to commit identify theft, though it could be done for other reasons. Phishing is an attempt to gain private information through email by assuming a false identity. There are different types of phishing.
Many Washington residents and businesses pay tax preparers to fill out and file their tax returns because of the complexity of the task. When mistakes happen that cause taxes to be underpaid, the Internal Revenue Service generally takes action to inform the filer and collect the unpaid amount. If the agency suspects that the person or entity purposefully filed erroneous information to avoid taxes, then a criminal charge of tax evasion could result.
In Washington, offering or accepting bribes is illegal. Bribes are offered in an attempt to alter the actions of other individuals and are often associated with public and political corruption. In many cases, there is no written evidence of bribery, though the prosecution is usually required to show intent.
The penalties for white collar crime in Washington can be severe, and investigations are sometimes triggered by simple mistakes or financial assumptions that later turned out to be incorrect. If you have been accused of committing a white collar crime or feel that you could be under investigation, you may wish to consult with an attorney who has experience in this area to get a better understanding of your situation and learn more about your available options.
A 44-year-old Seattle-area man has entered guilty pleas to charges of wire fraud and making false statements to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The former investment advisor is accused of operating a Ponzi scheme that ended up costing his investors approximately $3.7 million between 2006 and 2015. Media outlets reported on March 20 that prosecutors had reached an agreement with the man's attorneys that calls for a custodial sentence of about 66 months.
Many Washington residents probably associate Ponzi schemes with Bernie Madoff, the investment advisor who is serving a 150-year prison term for conniving the largest such scheme in U.S. history. While this Ponzi schemer was stopped, many more exist and still operate fraudulent investment deals.
Washington residents might be interested in learning that a former business manager of Alanis Morissette pleaded guilty to embezzling $6.5 million. Of that amount, $4.8 million was reportedly embezzled from Morissette, who sued the manager last year.
Seattle residents who been accused of financially motivated criminal activities may be handed a charge for money laundering. Laws against money laundering have made it illegal for a person to transfer money that was derived from criminal activities in an effort to hide the origin of the money. When the first anti-money laundering laws were enacted, they were meant to hinder organized crime.
Washington companies that do business with Barclays may be dismayed to learn that on Dec. 22, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it had filed a lawsuit against the British bank. The DOJ has claimed that the bank deceived investors by giving loans that were based on home appraisals that had been inflated and that the investors did not have the ability to repay.
Most Washington residents will know that the operator of a Ponzi scheme uses the funds received from new investors to provide returns to those who have already put money into the venture, but there are several other forms of commodities and securities fraud. Global financial markets are now more integrated than ever and provide investors with opportunities that would have been unimaginable just a few decades ago, but this transformation has also made it easier for some individuals to commit fraud.