White collar crimes are more rampant than many of us realize. As crimes that are typically financially motivated, such as fraud, embezzlement, and insider trading, white collar crimes cost the United States hundreds of billions of dollars each year.
Most white-collar crimes don’t make national headlines, but when one does, it captures our attention. Here are four of the most famous white-collar crimes that have occurred in modern history.
The Grandfather of the Ponzi Scheme
It would be remiss to put out any list of the most famous white-collar criminals in history without making mention of the grandfather of the Ponzi scheme himself, Charles Ponzi. In the 1920s, Ponzi carried out a scheme that involved getting investors to purchase discounted postage coupons. The initial investors were paid by the second group of investors, and those in turn were paid by money that came from later investors. Before he was caught, Charles Ponzi managed to make $20 million – an incredible amount of money for the times.
While Charles Ponzi might be the grandfather of the Ponzi Scheme, Bernie Madoff is arguably the king. Bernie Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison for playing a key role in one of the largest schemes in recent history. Bernie Madoff targeted his celebrity friends with a scheme that cost them millions. At one point he told his sons about his shenanigans, with one of them reporting their dad shortly after. The grand total of Madoff’s crimes? $65 billion.
Who could forget when TV personality and homemaker extraordinaire, Martha Stewart, was found guilty and sentenced to serve time in prison in response to charges of insider trading. Stewart received insider tips from her broker that a pharmaceutical company she owned shares in had failed to get FDA approval for a new cancer medication. She quickly dumped her shares before the stock plummeted the next day. While unloading stock isn’t a crime, insider trading is. Martha Steward ended up serving a little over five months of her original 2-year sentence.
Jeffrey Skilling and Enron
In its heyday, Enron was an incredibly successful company, bringing in over $100 billion. However, Enron was not immune to the changing times and they became unable to sustain their previous level of success. This became a problem when Jeffrey Skilling, the CEO of Enron, made moves to cover up the company’s financial downturn. It’s estimated that Skilling was able to conceal billions of dollars in debt, until word got out and their stock plummeted. Skilling was sentenced to 24 years and 6 months in prison.
Seeking the Guidance of a White-Collar Crime Attorney
If you’re being looked at in a white-collar crime investigation, the most important step you can take is to contact a San Diego criminal defense lawyer. White collar crimes have serious financial implications on the economy, and they’re not taken lightly in a court of law. Don’t take chances with your future, and contact attorney John D Kirby today to discuss your case.