Five Most Commonly Prosecuted White-Collar Crimes in North Carolina

While collar crimes are non-violent offenses committed for financial gain through deceit, manipulation, or fraud in business or professional settings, they are often committed by individuals in positions of trust and responsibility, such as executives, professionals, or employees in private and public organizations. These crimes can have severe financial repercussions and impact the integrity of businesses and the public's trust in institutions. Some of the most prosecuted white-collar crimes include fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, insider trading, bribery and corruption, and intellectual property theft. White-collar crime investigations require specialized units, regulatory bodies, and law enforcement agencies. Experienced criminal defense attorneys are crucial if you face charges or allegations.


Embezzlement is a form of financial theft where an individual misappropriates money or assets their employer or organization entrusted to them. It typically occurs when an employee, who has access to company funds or assets, unlawfully diverts them for personal use or gain. Embezzlement cases can range from relatively small amounts of cash taken over time to complex schemes involving the misappropriation of millions of dollars over an extended period.

The embezzlement process often involves a violation of trust, as the perpetrator may hold a position of responsibility within the organization. For instance, a business controller, treasurer, or accountant might manipulate financial records, create fraudulent transactions, or divert funds into their accounts. The embezzler may attempt to conceal their actions through false documentation or accounting irregularities.

Embezzlement cases can vary in scope and impact. While some involve discrete instances of stealing small amounts, others can involve elaborate schemes that siphon off significant assets from a company over an extended period. These complex schemes may involve multiple transactions, shell companies, or the exploitation of loopholes within an organization's financial systems.

If convicted of embezzlement, the penalties can be severe. The specific consequences will depend on factors such as the amount of money or assets involved, the duration and extent of the embezzlement scheme, and the jurisdiction in which the crime occurred. Penalties for embezzlement often include imprisonment, restitution to the victims for the amount stolen, and substantial fines. The severity of the punishment may increase if the embezzlement involves large sums of money or if the offender has a history of similar offenses.

In addition to the legal repercussions, embezzlement convictions can have significant personal and professional consequences. A criminal record for embezzlement can damage one's reputation and make it difficult to secure future employment or obtain credit. It may also lead to losing professional licenses or certifications and damage relationships with colleagues, employers, and clients.

If you are facing embezzlement charges, it is crucial to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who specializes in white-collar crimes. They will assess the specifics of your case, analyze the evidence against you, and develop a strategic defense to protect your rights and interests. Skilled attorneys will work diligently to challenge the prosecution's case, negotiate on your behalf, and seek the best possible outcome, including reduced charges, alternative sentencing, or acquittal.

Money Laundering

Money laundering is disguising illegally obtained money, making it appear as if it came from a legitimate source, and integrating it into the financial system. This process allows criminals to enjoy the profits of their illicit activities without raising suspicion or drawing attention to the illegal source of the funds.

Money laundering typically involves a series of complex transactions that aim to obscure the trail of illegally obtained funds. This can include depositing large sums of cash into bank accounts, transferring money through multiple accounts and jurisdictions, purchasing assets or properties using illicit funds, and creating intricate financial arrangements to hide the true nature of the money.

In North Carolina, money laundering is a serious offense with severe penalties. The North Carolina General Statutes prohibit money laundering. If convicted of money laundering in North Carolina, an individual can face significant consequences, including imprisonment for up to 25 years, substantial fines, and the forfeiture of any assets obtained through illegal activities.

It is important to note that money laundering is not only a state-level crime but also a federal offense. The federal government has its own set of laws and regulations that criminalize money laundering activities. The federal government actively investigates and prosecutes money laundering cases, often collaborating with law enforcement agencies and international partners.

Federal money laundering charges can also carry severe penalties, including lengthy prison sentences, substantial fines, asset forfeiture, and other consequences. The punishment for federal money laundering offenses may vary depending on factors such as the amount of money involved, the nature of the underlying criminal activity, and the defendant's role in the scheme.

Bank Fraud and Mortgage Fraud

Bank and mortgage fraud are serious white-collar crimes involving deceptive schemes designed to defraud financial institutions and obtain property, money, or other assets through fraud. These types of fraud can have far-reaching consequences and lead to significant financial losses for individuals and institutions.

Bank fraud encompasses a range of fraudulent activities targeting financial institutions. Some common forms of bank fraud include:

  1. Forgery: Falsely creating or altering documents, signatures, or endorsements to deceive the bank and gain unauthorized access to funds or services.
  2. Check kiting: A fraudulent practice where individuals exploit the time it takes for checks to clear between different bank accounts, creating an artificial balance and making it seem like there are sufficient funds when there are not.
  3. Wire transfer fraud: Illegally accessing or diverting funds during electronic money transfers, often through phishing, hacking, or other cybercrime techniques.
  4. Obtaining credit using falsified documents: Providing false or fraudulent information to financial institutions to secure loans, credit lines, or other forms of credit.

Mortgage fraud, on the other hand, specifically targets the real estate and mortgage industry. It involves various fraudulent activities aimed at obtaining funds or property through deceitful means. Some examples of mortgage fraud include:

  1. Illegal property flips: Inflating the value of a property through false appraisals or other means and quickly reselling it to unsuspecting buyers for a higher price, often leaving them with an overvalued and unsustainable mortgage.
  2. Equity skimming: The fraudulent practice of taking out equity from a property through deceptive means, often leaving the original homeowner financially burdened and at risk of losing their home.
  3. Foreclosure schemes: Exploiting distressed homeowners facing foreclosure by promising assistance, loan modifications, or other relief in exchange for upfront fees or fraudulent practices.

Bank and mortgage fraud can result in severe criminal charges and significant penalties, including imprisonment, fines, restitution, and forfeiture of assets. Law enforcement agencies and prosecutors vigorously pursue these crimes at the state and federal levels.

Identity Theft and Other Cybercrimes

Identity theft is a pervasive issue affecting many Americans, with Experian, a prominent credit reporting company, reporting that approximately one in 20 individuals experience identity theft yearly. The consequences of identity theft are staggering, resulting in nearly $17 billion in financial losses. As criminal defense attorneys specializing in cybercrimes, we recognize the seriousness of these offenses and their impact on both victims and those accused of such crimes.

Within the realm of mortgage fraud, there are two primary categories: fraud for profit and fraud for property. Fraud for profit typically involves individuals who hold positions within the mortgage industry, including bank officers, appraisers, mortgage bankers, and others. These industry insiders leverage their knowledge and access to misappropriate funds and equity from lenders or homeowners. By exploiting their expertise, they manipulate the mortgage lending process, leading to financial gains for themselves. As defense attorneys, we understand the intricate nature of these fraudulent schemes and work tirelessly to scrutinize the evidence presented by the prosecution, aiming to challenge their claims and protect our client's rights.

Identity theft encompasses a range of tactics cybercriminals use to unlawfully obtain another person's identifying information. This can involve stealing personal data, such as social security numbers, financial account details, or personal identification numbers. Cybercriminals employ various techniques to execute identity theft, including pharming, phishing, and deploying viruses and malware to deceive individuals and gain access to sensitive information. As defense attorneys, we approach cases involving identity theft with a meticulous examination of the evidence, seeking to establish our clients' lack of intent or involvement. We explore potential defenses, such as mistaken identity, lack of knowledge, or coercion, to build a robust case and protect our client's rights throughout the legal proceedings.

Recognizing that cybercrimes extend beyond identity theft and mortgage fraud is crucial. Other notable forms of cybercrime include online piracy, solicitation, and hacking. These offenses present unique legal challenges, necessitating a deep understanding of relevant laws, technological aspects, and legal precedents. Our team of experienced criminal defense attorneys remains at the forefront of this evolving landscape, continuously expanding our knowledge and expertise to provide effective defense strategies tailored to the specific allegations our clients face.

Insurance Fraud

Insurance fraud encompasses various illegal activities aimed at deceiving insurers for financial gain. Making false claims or misrepresentations to an insurer or agent is a criminal offense. One common form of insurance fraud is Medicare fraud, which involves submitting fraudulent claims for medical services or equipment. Another prevalent type of insurance fraud is premium diversion, where an insurance agent collects premiums from policyholders but fails to remit them to the policy underwriter, keeping the funds for personal use.

When prosecutors can establish that an individual obtained insurance payments or benefits based on false statements or misrepresentation and acquired the property through these fraudulent actions, insurance fraud can be charged as a felony, it is worth noting that many insurance customers do not intend to commit fraud. Some may unknowingly engage in fraudulent activities. For instance, individuals may unintentionally exaggerate a legitimate claim during negotiation. Additionally, some may believe that providing false information to an insurance company is acceptable to gain an advantage in return for their premium payments. However, it is crucial to understand that insurance fraud is a severe offense, and law enforcement agencies and trained investigators actively monitor and investigate suspicious activities.

Insurance fraud affects insurers and impacts honest policyholders who may face increased premiums or reduced coverage due to the financial losses incurred by fraudulent activities. To combat insurance fraud, insurers employ rigorous investigation processes and collaborate with law enforcement agencies to identify and prosecute those involved in fraudulent schemes. Trained investigators utilize various techniques, such as data analysis, surveillance, and interviewing witnesses, to gather evidence and build strong cases against individuals suspected of insurance fraud.

We defend clients accused of insurance fraud, analyze evidence, scrutinize investigations, and develop tailored defense strategies. With our help, clients can challenge allegations and seek the best possible outcome. Seeking experienced criminal defense lawyers to protect your rights and build a robust defense against serious legal consequences is crucial.

Charged With a White-Collar Crime? We Can Help

Federal and state prosecutors take white-collar crime seriously. If you suspect or know you are under investigation, speak to an experienced attorney immediately. The sooner you discuss your case with an attorney, the sooner they can investigate, gather evidence, and negotiate with the prosecutor.

The attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, are prepared to provide an effective, aggressive legal defense in your white-collar criminal case. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to schedule a case evaluation and learn how we can fight for you.