What constitutes a white collar crime?

On Behalf of | Aug 19, 2019 | White Collar Crimes |

Nowadays you probably hear or read continuing reports about white collar crime in Virginia. But what exactly does this category of crime encompass?

FindLaw explains that virtually all white collar crimes involve someone perpetrating a fraud against someone else. Specific white collar crimes falling within this category include the following:

  • Bribery
  • Money laundering
  • Ponzi schemes
  • Insider trading
  • Embezzlement
  • Counterfeiting

In addition, you can face white collar crime charges for such things as copyright infringement, identity theft and labor racketeering.

Another thing to keep in mind is that white collar crimes often represent both state and federal crimes for which you can face prosecution at either or both levels.

Origination of term

Sociologist Edwin Sutherland originally coined the phrase “white collar crime” back in 1939. He defined a white collar crime as one that was “committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of their occupation.” Bear in mind that most business people of the time wore white shirts or blouses as part of their business attire.


Interestingly, fraud itself constitutes one of the white collar crimes. This broad term applies to any crime in which the perpetrator uses some form of deception to deprive other people of their property so as to illegally make a financial gain for himself or herself.

While you should not interpret this general educational information as legal advice, it can help you understand the nature of white collar crimes and what to expect if you become charged with one.


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