Overview of White Collar Crimes: Fraud, Embezzlement, and Perjury

Overview of White Collar Crimes: Fraud, Embezzlement, and Perjury

“White collar crime” refers to business-related financial crimes. White collar crimes are non-violent and involve deception. The FBI states, “[t]hese crimes are characterized by deceit, concealment, or violation of trust and are not dependent on the application or threat of physical force or violence. The motivation behind these crimes is financial—to obtain or avoid losing money, property, or services or to secure a personal or business advantage.”

Further, “the term white collar crime is now synonymous with the full range of frauds committed by business and government professionals.” Many different types of criminal activity fall under the purview of white collar crime. Crimes ranging from sophisticated embezzlement schemes to perjury, from an investment fraud Ponzi scheme to identity theft, and from Medicare health care fraud to telemarketing fraud, are all considered white collar crimes.

Federal and state statutes codify what activities constitute criminal conduct. White collar crimes, such as fraud, embezzlement, and perjury, may be prosecuted as Federal criminal offenses in Federal court or as state crimes in state criminal court. Conviction of a white collar crime can carry steep penalties, fines, and imprisonment.


Fraud generally may be understood as “deliberately deceiving someone else with the intent of causing damage.” The damage is typically financial harm. Fraud crimes involve deceit and false statements of material fact.

There are a number of crimes that constitute fraud under federal law, including mail fraud, wire fraud, investment fraud, credit card fraud, Health Care Fraud, Mortgage Fraud, Telemarketing Fraud – to name only a few.

Also, there are a number of crimes that constitute fraud under Arizona state law. These include, but are not limited to, fraudulent schemes and artifices, business related fraud, and fraud in purchase or sale of securities fraud.

The precise elements of fraud are specific to each Federal or state fraud offense. To secure a conviction at trial for any fraud offense, the prosecutor must prove each element of the fraud crime being charged.


Embezzlement is the theft, misuse, or misappropriation of funds that belong to someone to whom you owe some type of duty. It requires that the person embezzling funds must have been entrusted with someone else’s money and that they had legal access to the funds.

The most common example is a company employee who embezzles money from his employer. Another example is a financial investment advisor who improperly uses clients funds she has been entrusted to protect. Embezzlement schemes can be complex, and can include falsified financial records, fraudulent billing, Ponzi schemes, or other large-scale fraud schemes.

Federal embezzlement laws target theft from the federal government and theft or misuse of public funds. 18 U.S.C. Chapter 31. In Arizona’s criminal law statue, embezzlement is referred to simply as theft and is punished according to the value of the money or property stolen. A.R.S. §13-1802.


Perjury is knowingly making a false statement while under oath.

The two most commonly utilized Federal statutes to prosecute perjury offense are Perjury generally and False declaration before grand jury or court, Code sections 18 U.S.C. § 1621 and 1623, respectively. USAM 9-69.200.

Offenses charged under these statutes share four common elements of perjury: the defendant (1) must be under oath in a federal proceeding during his testimony; (2) must have made a false statement; (3) with knowledge of its falsity, rather than as a result of confusion, mistake, or faulty memory; and (4) the false statement must be material to the proceedings. A false statement is material if it has “a natural tendency to influence, or is capable of influencing, the decision of the decision-making body to which it was addressed.” Kungys v. United States, 485 U.S. 759, 770 (1988). USAM 9-69.200.

Under Arizona law, a person commits perjury by making either:

  1. A false sworn statement in regard to a material issue, believing it to be false.
  2. A false unsworn declaration, certificate, verification or statement in regard to a material issue that the person subscribes as true under penalty of perjury, believing it to be false.

A.R.S. 13-2702. Perjury in Arizona is a class 4 felony, which carries a presumptive 2.5 year prison sentence for a first time offender.

White Collar Criminal Defense

Alleged white collar crimes are prosecuted aggressively at the Federal and state levels. If you are under investigation for, or have been charged with, fraud or other white collar crime then you need to hire a white collar criminal defense attorney immediately.

At Ashley D. Adams, PLC our emphasis is on white collar crime and defending the most complex criminal cases. There is no white collar criminal case that is too complex or too challenging for us. We have successfully defended charges for healthcare fraud, mortgage fraud, and other alleged large-scale fraud schemes.

Contact us now (480) 219-1366 for the legal protection you need. Our firm handles state criminal cases throughout Arizona and federal criminal cases throughout the United States, including Arizona, Oklahoma, Utah, and California.

We practice excellence, one client at a time.