Theft by fraud is common in white-collar crimes. White-collar offenders use lies and cheating instead of using physical force. However, the distinction between a lie and an error is often muddled. When a business agreement goes bad, law enforcement officers sometimes misunderstand honest motives. On the basis of contradictory testimony, innocent citizens are often arrested and convicted for financial crimes.

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When people hear the term "white-collar crime," they will believe that the punishments are light. The opposite could not be further from the facts. Despite the fact that white-collar offenses are non-violent and financial in nature, being charged with one can result in a variety of punishments, including probation, county jail, state prison, or federal prison.

What is the definition of a white-collar crime?

White-collar crimes are non-violent crimes with a financial motive. Since they are mostly committed by corporate professionals or government officials rather than "blue-collar" employees, they are dubbed "white collar" crimes.

The absence of abuse and the dishonest benefit of money are two characteristics that characterize white-collar crimes. All of these crimes are classified as fraud, which is described as deception of others for financial gain.

The following are examples of offenses that meet the requirements for white-collar crimes:

  • Fraudulent bankruptcies
  • Computer-related offenses
  • Extortion
  • Theft of one's identity
  • Insurance swindle
  • Fraud
  • Laundering of funds
  • Scams that make money, such as Ponzi schemes
  • Theft of a mortgage

In certain cases, defending a client accused of white-collar crime is just half of the fight. Professionals whose enterprises, jobs, and reputation are on the line are often involved in the offenses.

Who is responsible for prosecuting white-collar crimes?

Depending on the specific offenses charged, white-collar crimes may be tried in state or federal courts or both. If the offense includes defrauding a federal agency, such as Medicare, the United States government will prosecute in federal court through the United States Attorney's Office.

If the offense is a federal crime, such as bribing a local official, the state may prosecute in state court through the District Attorney. When activities in question breach both state and federal laws, charges can be filed by both government jurisdictions. When facing a white-collar lawsuit, it goes without saying that no one can go it alone.

Embezzlement is by far the most common form of white-collar crime in California, and it is described as taking property that did not belong to you but was entrusted to your care.

Embezzlement charges would prove that the owner of the property in question trusted you because you were:

  • a coworker
  • The property has been given to you on a temporary basis.
  • You were a trustee, board member, or principal of a company with the authority to administer money or property.

Those who take large sums of money, as well as those who take comparatively small sums of money, can face embezzlement charges under Penal Code 503.

It's important to note that even though you take money or property with the intention of returning it, you may be charged with embezzlement. Maybe you're the person in charge of cash deposits in your company, and you've recently experienced a financial setback. You "borrow" a few hundred dollars from your savings account, completely expecting to repay the funds as soon as the next paycheck arrives. If you're accused of embezzlement, your intention to refund the money won't benefit you.

Embezzlement Can Affect Any Kind of Asset

Some embezzlers actually take huge sums of money all at once, while others misappropriate small sums over time. Embezzlement techniques vary widely and are often surprisingly imaginative. Fraudulent billing, payroll checks to fictitious workers, documents falsification, "Ponzi" financial schemes, and more are only a few examples.

Embezzlement does not have to be a financial crime. Embezzlement also includes the conversion of company goods, such as laptop computers or company vehicles. Embezzlement laws in some states require the taking of real property as well as personal property.

Elements of the Embezzlement Crime

The elements required to prove embezzlement vary by state statute, but in general, four factors must be present:

  1. There must be a fiduciary relationship between the two parties, which means that one party must depend on the other.
  2. The property must have been obtained by the defendant as a result of the partnership (rather than in some other manner)
  3. The defendant had to have taken possession of the property or given it to someone else.
  4. The defendant's conduct had to be deliberate.

Embezzlement is also a federal offense

Embezzlement of public funds or government-owned property may occur in addition to the corporate environment. Embezzling public money, counterfeiting tools, documents, or anything of value is illegal under many federal laws.

The Fundamentals of Criminal Liability

The main distinction between embezzlement and simple fraud is a breach of confidence. Under California statute, embezzlement is a property offense. The offense is keeping property that was entrusted to the defendant without permission. By having a fiduciary relationship between the defendant and the victim, state law separates embezzlement from larceny or theft. The party entrusted with money or property has specific rights and responsibilities in a fiduciary relationship. Trustees, agents, administrative officials, and public officers, as well as employees and practitioners, have fiduciary responsibilities. Embezzlement is the betrayal of a defendant's responsibilities.


To prove embezzlement, a plaintiff must show that the defendant had a clear motive to defraud the victim of property entrusted to the defendant in the fiduciary relationship beyond a reasonable doubt to a moral certainty. The defendant had to have meant to rob the victim of his or her house. Embezzlement would not be considered whether the defendant made a mistake or made a mistake.

The defendant, for example, may have used funds for purposes not stated in the parties' agreement or fiduciary relationship. An attempt to temporarily rob the owner of the property is normally appropriate for an embezzlement claim under California law. Other than California, some states require the owner to have the intent to permanently deprive them of their land.

Finding Proof

In a criminal case, unlike a civil case where the plaintiff must prove his or her case by a preponderance of the facts, the state must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, a much higher standard of proof, and the decision must be unanimous, or the "hung" jury cannot convict. As a result, the prosecutor's job is much more daunting than that of a civil litigant.

If the offense is a "wobbler," meaning that depending on the facts of the case, you may be charged with a felony or a misdemeanor.

A misdemeanor grand theft embezzlement conviction will carry a sentence of up to a year in county jail. Convictions for felony grand theft embezzlement will result in up to three years in prison.

Embezzlement Penalties

A conviction for the misdemeanor petty theft will result in up to six months in county jail if the property taken is worth less than $950 and does not involve a weapon or an automobile.

An embezzlement conviction may have a long-term negative impact on your personal and professional life, making it difficult to find work, rent a house, receive a government student loan, or obtain a professional license. The core components of a strong embezzlement defense are gathering the right facts and engaging with the right people. An accomplished Criminal Defense Attorney in San Diego will assist you in ensuring the truth is revealed while also securing your rights and future.

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Convictions for embezzlement can have life-altering consequences, including the loss of your integrity, professional license, and potential job prospects. This offense may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Since embezzlement comes under the umbrella of fraud, the punishments for embezzlement are close to those for theft.

  • The punishments differ based on a variety of factors, including the defendant's previous criminal background, the amount taken, the number of individual thefts from the employer, and the level of complexity of the robbery (s).
  • Misdemeanors are punished by a nominal fine, community service, restitution, three years of informal probation, and up to six months in county prison for first convictions involving less than $950.
  • First-time convictions costing more than $950 can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor, with a fine, probation, community service, and a year in county jail or 16 months to three years in prison as punishment.
  • Second offenses are punishable as felonies and can result in a year in county jail or up to three years in state prison.
  • First offenses of less than $50 can be reduced to an infraction if there have been no previous theft-related convictions.
  • Embezzlement or stealing from seniors or disabled people is a serious offense that can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies that carry probation or prison sentences.


In Los Angeles, California, health insurance fraud, welfare fraud, tax evasion fraud, credit card fraud, and check fraud are only a few of the most common forms of fraud. Prosecutors in the state have the authority to prosecute anyone with fraud, victims have the authority to report alleged fraud activity, and they have the right to hire a Criminal Defense Attorney to defend you. If you have been convicted of fraud, we encourage you to seek legal assistance from a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney.

Fraud under California Law

Fraud is described as the deliberate deception of others in order to obtain illegal or unfair benefits. It may also happen when a victim's legal rights under the US Constitution are violated. Only government prosecutors have the authority to prosecute suspected fraudsters with crimes, but victims are free to report them.

For fraud offenses, there are two main criteria: civil wrong, in which a victim sues to stop the crime or recover losses, in which the defendant is brought to trial and charged by the appropriate authorities. In addition, in criminal cases, the burden of evidence is far greater, as the prosecutor must prove all aspects of fraud beyond a reasonable doubt. In comparison, civil suits may result in monetary compensation and restitution, in which the defendant is forced to repay the money that was stolen.

The following are important aspects of fraud laws:

  • Deliberately displaying or indicating a crucial fact
  • Recognizing that such knowledge is false
  • This misrepresentation is relied upon by the victim (e.g., income statements)
  • A victim suffers a deficit that can be quantified

Fraud, like other illegal activities, is rampant, and this upward trend can be traced back to Proposition 47, a law aimed at reducing prison overcrowding. This proposal reduces the punishments for crimes such as drug possession and non-violent offenses, allowing people to complete reduced sentences reserved for misdemeanors.

Insurance Fraud in Automobiles

Los Angeles has earned a reputation as the world's auto fraud capital due to its pervasiveness. According to the California Department of Insurance, the city reported $120 million in auto insurance fraud between 2012 and 2013. The California Penal Code Sections 548-550 regulate the Fraud Division, which investigates various types of auto fraud, such as organized crime, falsified insurance claims, economic theft, crash rings, and medical bills.

Furthermore, the Department stated that while this type of fraud is not specific to California, Los Angeles has a far higher rate of fraud crimes than the rest of the state. By any measure, the city is responsible for 43 percent of all fraud crimes in the Sunshine State. Automobile insurance fraud can take several forms, the most common of which are as follows:

Swoop and Squat

This type of crime is often known as a sudden stop, and it happens when the'squat' driver passes the victim's car and then slows down, closing the distance between the two vehicles. The victim abruptly breaks and ends up rear-ending the'squat' car, which, of course, results in an insurance claim.

Authorities are eager to investigate any case as required by law, and they have deduced that most cases of auto fraud share the same tell-tale signs:

  • Insurance for the other (squat) car is relatively recent.
  • Before the abrupt breaking, there was a steady flow of traffic
  • The other car is either dilapidated or marked as salvage
  • Despite a minor crash, passengers in the squat car report injury

The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America recommends that victims of such accidents always take photographic evidence to support their claims. Photographs may be used by investigators to assess whether or not the injuries are proportionate to the accident scene.

Collision of Papers

When people conspire to stage a legitimate accident by driving a car that has already been destroyed, this type of crash occurs. Alternatively, they will purposefully and covertly wreck the victim's vehicle.

Collision of the Phantoms

This form of accident occurs when an unknown vehicle collides with another vehicle, and the other vehicle is normally unidentified. In 2014, there were 16 false claims involving phantom collisions, resulting in a loss of $314,000 to seven insurance companies. The state insurance commissioner in California stated that such crimes are not victimless because taxpayers bear the brunt of the cost by paying higher premiums.

Fraudulent Real Estate Transactions

The word "real estate scam" refers to a group of fraudulent schemes in which home buyers or real estate brokers misrepresent mortgage documents. Falsified W-2 types are a common example of this crime, as is property inflation to deceive buyers into paying much more than the market value.

Others that rely on that data to complete mortgage transactions are drawn in by the agency that submits false information. Although real estate fraud is not specifically mentioned in federal laws, it is prosecuted as bank fraud, wire fraud, or conspiracy.

In 2009, the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act (FERA) was enacted to give federal authorities more leverage in enforcing laws against real estate fraud. Culprits caught up in such legal tangles will face fines and a jail term of up to 30 years if they are convicted.

Fraud for Housing

This type of fraudulent activity happens when a home buyer submits false details in order to increase his or her chances of getting a loan or better terms. They may also omit crucial details from the loan application papers.

Profiteering by fraud

This is a crime committed by a real estate broker, realtor, or mortgage broker who inflates property value in order to profit from the sale. Since Los Angeles has some of the most expensive real estates in the country, this type of fraud happens frequently.

Despite these broad categories of real estate fraud, there are several detailed examples of how this crime is committed, as seen below:

Straw buyers

The "straw buyer" who takes out a loan hides their identity by naming a candidate with a good credit score and other qualifications. The nominee's information is then used to fill out a loan application.

Identity theft

This crime occurs when a mortgage loan borrower uses another person's information without their consent. They obtain the victim's name, personal identifying details, and credit history with the intent of fraudulently obtaining a loan on their behalf.

Property resale

To make fast money, real estate investors can flip assets. They do this by purchasing homes, quickly valuing them at exorbitant prices, and then quickly offloading them to the next unsuspecting consumer. It's important to remember that flipping houses during a market boom are a profitable business strategy. Nonetheless, dishonest appraisal is a crime that is punishable under California law.

In other cases, an individual may use ostensibly bank-approved short sale approval letters. They then continue to conduct transactions, mostly on distressed assets, which they sell for a fraction of the market value, to the detriment of the owners. They would then sell the property for a much higher price, making a substantial profit in the process.

Fake approval letters have had a negative effect on home buyers and investors who have closed deals on properties that appear to have straightforward titles but have been devalued, in fact. Tax liens in the hundreds of thousands of dollars could be placed on these victims.

Theft of property owners' identities is also popular among schemers who sell and refinance their homes without their permission. Property schemes are notoriously complex, involving escrow officers who fabricate or conceal crucial documents.

Escrow wire fraud

This type of fraud is extremely profitable, totaling $5.2 billion on an international scale, with the home buying industry losing $5.3 million each month. According to the FBI, business email compromise (BEC) is the industry word for wire fraud, and fraudsters are changing their targets.

Because it is possible to tap into escrow networks and collect emails and other identifying data, prospective homeowners have become highly sought-after targets as of spring 2018. The emails are then sent to unwitting victims, demanding wire transfers for a property on which they recently closed a contract. Wire fraud is typically committed in collaboration with scammers from other countries who obtain US bank accounts via dating sites and then exploit their information.

Equity Skimming

This scheme involves two key players: a straw buyer (as previously mentioned) and a property investor. The investor obtains property in the name of a straw buyer who then signs over the home using falsified income records and credit statements. The straw buyer relinquishes all legal rights to the property, leaving the lender in possession, who then rents out space without paying the bank any mortgage payments. The bank eventually forecloses on the house, leaving them with a mess of trying to find out who the true owners are.

California, like many other states, has enacted legislation to combat real estate fraud, and those who are caught up in such crimes are prosecuted.

Fraud and tax evasion

These types of crimes often occur together. Tax evasion is described as refusing to pay taxes that you are legally obligated to pay to the federal or state government. Failure to perform this mandatory obligation can result in legal entanglements that may result in a jail term or property forfeiture.

Tax fraud, on the other hand, is intentionally deceiving authorities by filling out tax application forms with incorrect details. The new tax laws provide many benefits to law-abiding people, but they also carry risks that could lead to an increase in tax evasion.

Individuals and companies are likely to be audited by the IRS if this occurs, and this stance may be cause for concern if things are not right. Your tax returns will be scrutinized by the IRS with a fine-tooth comb, and any inconsistencies will result in disciplinary action. Tax evasion carries stiff fines, and when all offenses are involved, imprisonment becomes a realistic option.

Corporate/Business Fraud

Dishonest transactions and other illegal acts are encouraged by individuals and companies in the name of financial gain in this form of crime. Unfortunately, the bulk of these sagas take place under the umbrella of legitimate enterprise and therefore go unnoticed without raising red flags. As you would expect, corporate fraud can manifest itself in a variety of ways, as illustrated by the following examples:

Goods that aren't delivered

Refusal to deliver merchandise is one of the most common forms of business fraud, and it occurs when suppliers, both local and international, fail to submit products after payment has been received. Customers, on the other hand, fail to follow through on their orders.

Merchandise Reshipment

This scheme occurs when goods are shipped to a home, then removed, and repackaged for resale. Such items are often purchased with stolen credit cards, and the person signing for them is usually unaware of this.

Unpaid Loans

As previously said, this scheme is the polar opposite of failure to deliver. Goods are delivered, but clients (who may be located abroad) never pay for them, and debt collection efforts are futile. Even if the victims report the crime, their businesses would have lost revenue, potentially causing cash flow issues. If you've been duped, you'll need to hire a White Collar Crime Lawyer who specializes in international business law.

Fraudulent donations to charities

This deception plays on people's innate goodness of wanting to make the world a better place. There are several charities promising to dig wells in the Global South, purchase prescriptions to combat disease pandemics or build schools for poor children. People will open their wallets if you put together a few video clips and photos of starving children in war-torn places like Darfur. Others are well-positioned to respond to natural disasters such as hurricanes. People are fixated on the news cycles to see how their neighbors are faring and how they can help them.

Fraudulent Internet Auctions

The Digital Age has brought with it unique benefits and has revolutionized social lives, business, education, and nearly every other aspect of life. Nonetheless, the internet's pervasiveness has provided loopholes for cybercrime, especially where auctions are held. Consider one of our prescreened California Lawyers in your Cal Bar Attorney Search.

Fraudulent use of credit cards

Counterfeit fraud occurs when someone obtains credit card numbers and imprints them onto other cards, which they then use to shop at specific retailers. According to the LA Times, these schemes are popular in major cities like Los Angeles, but thanks to chip technology, prevalence rates have dropped by 75%. Integrating EMV® chips into electronic payment cards improves protection for both consumers and retailers, and according to a recent Visa survey, this effort was a success. By using a one-time code that makes it impossible to complete another transaction without authorization, the ability to use chips rather than traditional magnetic stripes is thwarting credit card fraud. Despite these gains, your luck may run out, and you will need the assistance of an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney.

Return Theft

Return fraud is another form of fraud that is gaining popularity in Los Angeles. The streets of this shopping capital are lined with high-end clothing shops, and some low-income shoppers take advantage of the scheme by returning goods without receipts. Retailers who have been harmed by habitual shoplifters are changing their return policies.

Bankruptcy fraud, postal fraud, securities fraud, telemarketing fraud, and identity theft are all examples of fraudulent activities in California. Strict sanctions, such as community service, license revocation, and possible prison time, are often imposed for these offenses. Allowing the prosecutors to take advantage of your situation is not a good idea; instead, hire a Criminal Defense Attorney to help you navigate the complexities of the court system and fight for the best possible outcome.


It is illegal to intentionally change, make, or use any written document with the intent to commit fraud, according to the law. Simply put, creating or altering a document for the purpose of gaining something of value is illegal.

  • When a defendant has the real intent to commit fraud, he or she signs another person's name or signature in order to obtain a reward. The profit is frequently monetary in nature, such as taking another person's check and signing it in the true owner's name without their permission.
  • If anyone falsifies a will or other legal document, they are committing forgery. This is common in elder abuse cases, where an individual who is trusted by the victim writes a will and copies the victim's signature in order to obtain a reward.
  • The crime isn't over until the counterfeited object is passed on to someone else. As a result, stealing someone's check and signing it is still a felony. The forgery isn't complete until the check is given to the teller or deposited into an account. At that time, the only white-collar crime committed was attempted forgery in violation of Penal Code Section 664/470 PC.

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The passing of the item completes the motive part of the crime, implying that the victim would be defrauded if the money was moved. Two simple elements must be proven by the prosecutor:

  1. Is it possible that the accused stole or tampered with something?
  2. Did they carry out the act with the intent to defraud?

It makes no difference if the funds were transferred or the victim was defrauded in some way if these two conditions are met. When the document or instrument is passed, the crime is complete.

As in all theft offenses, the motive component of the crime must meet the "basic intent" criterion. The term "specific motive" refers to the awareness of the wrongdoing prior to the act. The prosecutor will establish this by circumstantial evidence; the manner in which the check is written or the object is transferred may reveal the intent to steal.

The writing of a check that belongs to someone else is an example of breaking California forgery law. A simple fraud has occurred if Person "A" owns a checkbook and Person "B" removes one of the checks from the book without permission. A forgery has occurred if Person "A" then writes out the check, signs Person "B's signature, and deposits the check into his own account.

Even if the person passing the check did not write it but got it from another person, cashing a forged check may be prosecuted under this code clause.

Although a forged check is the classic example of a forgery, the concept of forgery crimes has evolved as technology has. Theft of a credit card may also be charged under Section 470 PC of the Penal Code. Although transferring another person's credit card without their permission is illegal, forgery does not occur until the credit card slip is signed after the card has been used for purchase.

It is also illegal to forge another person's signature or handwriting without their permission.

The prosecution will be able to establish the forgery through the victim's testimony and the use of handwriting experts. Experts in writing should equate the writing of the true owner of the check to the writing of the individual under investigation. The handwriting of an individual is as distinct as their fingerprints. Advanced technology is now used by law enforcement to extract DNA and fingerprints from the paper.

White Collar Crime Sentence

White-collar crimes in California are subject to wobbler prosecution, which means the prosecutor decides whether the charge will be a misdemeanor or a felony. The allegations are subject to the same fines as petty and grand theft charges because they include the suspected theft of money from others. Since the crime is commonly committed several times, often with multiple victims, each instance should be counted separately.

Fraud charges range from 3 years of probation to 6 months in prison as misdemeanors. A felony charge will result in a sentence ranging from 16 months to three years in prison. If you are charged with 6 counts of felony fraud, you may face up to 18 years in jail.

If you are convicted of a white-collar crime, you will face financial penalties depending on each separate offense, in addition to jail time. You may also be required to compensate their victims.

Defenses to White Collar Crimes

With this personal representation, your White Collar Crimes Lawyer will help you plan your defense in accordance with the facts of your case.

The majority of criminal cases concerning fraudulent or misleading conduct are made under the assumption that:

  • The Police believe that the suspect is guilty if the suspect has denied the claim that they made. Sometimes, it is said that the suspected victim does not understand what was said to them.
  • Whether the statement was, in fact, was completely false There are not real facts being made in these comments, but rather suggestions of what could happen. Other claims appear to be correct, but they will subsequently be proven incorrect when circumstances are discovered to be different.
  • If the alleged victim was being asked to make a promise of confidentiality was willing to provide testimony, The state must be able to show that a criminal purpose was present beyond a reasonable doubt in order to find someone guilty of intent to deceive.
  • If they are being accused of a false, a majority of the time, Allegations can also occur when someone is out for vengeance or just wants to stir up a problem.

The ultimate issue is whether the accused was involved in the incident. White-collar offenders will also take advantage of individuals who have no knowledge of the crime, shielding them from charges in an effort to stay on the down-low. Alternatively, the perpetrator could be mistakenly believed to be a survivor of having been caught in the crime or vice versa. Any other users may access the information stored on the accused's device, for example, when a computer crime is committed by another individual using the same machine.

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