Maybe the term “white collar crimes” needs to be changed, to something like “blue-and-red collar crimes.” That’s because white collar crimes are branching out — or rather, other groups are branching into crimes once thought to be limited to business executives in their offices. Recently, it was revealed that national gangs like the Bloods and the Crips are committing their drive-by shootings through cyber space crimes that are white collar in nature.
Both gangs have increasingly committed financial cyber space crimes that not only threaten Corporate America, but also pose a risk to the rest of us. Their white collar schemes range from mortgage fraud to counterfeiting to identity theft to credit card fraud. These crimes offer less risk than “traditional” crimes like murder and drug trafficking — and the reward is potentially much greater.
The FBI warns that besides the Bloods and Crips, other gangs like the Latin Kings and Aryan Brotherhood are getting involved in online white collar crimes. More importantly, these gangs are growing in size, as they purposely go out and recruit people with high-tech computer skills. The gangs have even been recruiting through social network sites like Facebook and Twitter. (One would think that people with high-tech backgrounds would know better than to tangle with the Bloods and Crips, but in this economy, maybe any job is better than none.) FBI agents claim that some of these criminal gangs are as large and sophisticated as any corporation. That sounds a bit rich, but it is an indication that gang activity has gone beyond the smash and grab punch -in -the -mouth tactics of pre -cyberspace days.
These reports serve as a reminder to never let your guard down when you are online. If a complete stranger claims that you will win a big prize if only you provide personal information like your birth date, Social Security number, or mother’s maiden name, you will probably just hit the delete button. On the other hand, not every white collar crime is a big and sophisticated scheme run by a conspiracy of gang related thugs. A criminal defense attorney may defend many small white collar suspects who simply misunderstood their situations. For instance, there have been several cases where a suspect in a cyber chat thought that he was talking to someone of legal age; or cases where the suspect was just a mid-level manager doing work that his superiors wanted him to do, not realizing that the work was fraud. Then there are cases where the suspect was not even involved with the crime. On more than one occasion, people who use shared computers have been accused of crimes they knew nothing about. That is because the computer’s ISP just records that the computer was being used at a given time — not who was using it. Therefore, your nice but secretive uncle who came to visit for two weeks and used your computer late at night might never be charged, but you might not be so lucky.
And then there are white collar suspects who — it turns out — masterminded big schemes and were completely aware of their illegal activity, like members of the Bloods and Crips. Believe it or not, even those suspects have the right to be represented by a defense attorney in a criminal trial.