White Collar Crime Prosecutions Down; ID Theft Crimes Up

A case-by-case analysis released by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a nonpartisan research organization, shows that prosecution of white collar crime cases by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in U.S. District Courts has declined by 31.3 percent from levels reported in 2001. Prosecutions for “Fraud and Related Activity – ID Theft” showed the greatest increase – 107.6 percent in the same period.


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Identity (ID) theft is the fastest growing white collar crime in the nation, the Central Valley Business Times reports. Recent charges in an identity theft-related indictment that resulted from the theft of mail in Modesto, Calif. included bank fraud, mail fraud and theft of documents, the Business Times reports. “Bank fraud” was consistently the most common charge over the five-year period analyzed by TRAC , followed by “Mail fraud – frauds and swindles”.

Federal grand juries in Fresno have indicted three individual for similar identity theft crimes. Investigation of the cases was conducted by the U.S. Postal Service with the cooperation of local police departments, the Business Times says.

Prosecution of white collar crime, including identity theft, involves coordination of effort at all levels of government, said U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott in a written statement to the Business Times. “Identity theft continues to be one of the fastest growing crimes in both our region and across the nation. These indictments underscore local, state and federal law enforcement’s commitment to aggressively combating this most pernicious crime.”

The largest decrease in charge since 2001 has been for “Theft – embezzlement - misapplication by bank officers, employees”, which is down 70 percent, TRAC reports.

Failure to protect businesses from theft of inventory and other white collar crime constitutes a tax on business, the San Jose Mercury News says. The Santa Clara district attorney, who prosecutes these crimes is committed to the effort but lacks resources. “Many of the investigators hired and assigned to white-collar crime units have no previous experience with those cases. These positions require specialized training, but turnover is often high as investigators rotate out to other assignments,” the Mercury News says. In recent years, the district attorney’s office has reduced staffing within the consumer-protection and environmental-protection units. Additional teams of attorneys, paralegals and investigators will be needed to protect the community, the News says.

The lead investigative agency for white collar crime is the FBI, TRAC reports (36 percent of prosecutions) followed by the IRS (14 percent), Secret Service (11 percent) and the Postal service (9 percent).

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