Money laundering occurs when criminals in Washington and around the country engage in activities meant to make money made from illegal actions appear to be coming from legitimate sources. The rise of digital forms of money not issued by governments has created new opportunities for money launderers. Internet tools like virtual currencies, anonymizing software that hides the tracks of digital transactions and peer-to-peer mobile phone transfers have given people new methods for shifting illegally gotten cash into accounts that appear legal.
Accusations of white-collar crime can hit hard when businesspeople or investors in Seattle and across the country are accused of fraud. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SED) has charged one Mississippi company with defrauding 150 investors of $85 million in an alleged Ponzi scheme. Ponzi schemes are named after Charles Ponzi, who ran a famous scheme in the 1920s that collected over $8 million from 30,000 people across the country.
If a Washington business is actually a front to embezzle funds, it may be called a racket. Those who engage in rackets are said to be racketeering. For example, organized crime rings might try to traffic weapons or infiltrate a company in an effort to commit white-collar crime. Both state and federal laws are in place to deter such racketeering.
Identity theft, also known as identity fraud, is exactly what it sounds like. This is a type of crime in which a person wrongfully uses or obtains another individual's personal data in a matter that involves deception or fraud. Adding to this, the theft usually occurs so that the person stealing the data can make a financial gain.
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.