Most white-collar crimes prosecuted as federal violations are based on statutes enacted by Congress under the authority of Article I, Section 8, of the U.S. Constitution, which grants Congress power over postal, bankruptcy, and taxing matters and authority to regulate interstate domestic and foreign commerce.
Of course, state legislatures have broad authority to proscribe such offenses as contrary to the public welfare.
Today, prosecutions of white-collar crime are frequently directed against corporate defendants, and corporations are held criminally liable for the acts of their agents committed within the scope of an agent’s authority.
The rapid growth of the Internet has opened up new vistas of opportunity for criminals.
Identity theft, theft of intellectual property, and numerous types of fraudulent schemes have been propelled to unprecedented levels by means of the Internet.
In March 2009, the FBI reported that Internet-based crime increased by 33% over the previous year, making 2008 the worst year on record for reported cybercrimes.
Computer Fraud and Abuse Act 18 U.S.C.A. § 1030
Proscribes crimes involving “protected computers,” which are those used in interstate commerce or communications, including computers connected to the Internet.
As amended in 1996, 18 U.S.C.A. § 1030(a)(5)(A) makes it a crime to “knowingly cause the transmission of a program, information, code, or command” in interstate commerce with intent to cause damage to a computer exclusively used by a financial institution or the U.S. government.
In addition, the act prohibits “knowingly and with intent to defraud, trafficking in passwords to permit unauthorized access to a government computer, or to affect interstate or foreign commerce.” 18 U.S.C.A. § 1030(a)(6)(A)(B).
Subsection 1030(a)(7) makes it illegal to transmit in interstate or foreign commerce any threat to cause damage to a protected computer with intent to extort something of value.
A person shall not knowingly transmit commercial electronic mail if any of the following apply:
1. The person falsifies electronic mail transmission information or other routing information for unsolicited commercial electronic mail.
2. The mail contains false or misleading information in the subject line.
3. The person uses a third party’s internet address or domain name without the third party’s consent for the purpose of transmitting electronic mail in a way that makes it appear that the third party was the sender of the mail.
The theft or misappropriation of personal identifying information and documents has become a theft offense of major proportions in the United States.
In April 2006 the Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin reported that in 2004, 3.6 million households, representing 3% of the households in the U.S., discovered that at least one member of the household had been the victim of identity theft during the previous six months.
Federal law prohibits falsely affixing or marking in connection with sales or advertising of any imitation of the name of a patentee, a patent number, or using the words “patent,” “patentee,” “patent applied for,” or “patent pending” to falsely convey the status of a patent.
To prove any of the above violations, the prosecution must show the deceitful intent of the defendant.
“ Whoever intentionally traffics or attempts to traffic in goods or services and knowingly uses a counterfeit mark on or in connection with such goods or services shall, if an individual, be fined not more than $2,000,000 or imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both, and, if a person other than an individual, be fined not more than $5,000,000.”
A copyright affords legal protection to authors of original works which now includes musical, artistic, and architectural works as well as videos, computer software, and databases. For a work created after January 1, 1978, statutory protection is given for the life of the author plus 70 years after the author’s death.
Federal law provides that anyone “who infringes a copyright willfully either (1) for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain, or (2) by the reproduction or distribution, including by electronic means of one or more copies or phonorecords … shall be punished…”
18 U.S.C.A. § 1001 prohibits knowingly and willfully making a false statement that is material to a matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States.
When proceeding under the False Statements Act, the government must prove that the accused knowingly and willfully submitted to a government agency or department a statement that was false and material.
Medicare and Medicaid fraud are the most common forms of this offense.
To prove Medicare or Medicaid fraud under the False Claims Act, the government must prove that (1) the defendant presented a claim seeking reimbursement from the government for medical services or goods, (2) the claim was false or fraudulent, and (3) the accused knew of the claim’s falsity.
31 U.S.C.A. § 5313 requires financial institutions to file currency transaction reports with the Secretary of the Treasury for cash transactions in excess of $10,000.
31 U.S.C.A. § 5324 prohibits a person from causing or attempting to cause a financial institution from making the required reports or from structuring or assisting in structuring a transaction with one or more institutions to evade the requirement.
The law prohibits infiltration of legitimate organizations by racketeers where foreign or interstate commerce is affected. In addition to increased criminal penalties, the new RICO statute provides for forfeiture of property used in criminal enterprises and permits the government to also bring civil actions against such enterprises.
RICO makes it a crime for any person “who has received any income derived, directly or indirectly, from a pattern of racketeering activity or through collection of an unlawful debt ... to use or invest [in] any enterprise which is engaged in interstate or foreign commerce.”
It makes it unlawful for any such person to participate, directly or indirectly, in the conduct of the enterprise’s affairs through a “pattern of racketeering.”
It makes it a crime for any person “employed by or associated with any enterprise engaged in, or the activities of which affect, interstate or foreign commerce, to conduct or participate, directly or indirectly, in the conduct of such enterprise’s affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity or collection of unlawful debt.”
Finally, the act prohibits conspiracies to violate any of these proscriptions.