White-collar crimes in South Carolina cover several categories of nonviolent, illegal financial activities committed for the defendant’s benefit. These activities have the goal of deception, which often occurs through omission, lying, and misrepresentation. Racketeering is a type of white-collar crime commonly associated with organized groups.
Overview of racketeering
Racketeering is setting up or acquiring a fraudulent business to hide illegal income or to commit illegal activity. The business is called a racket, and the group or person in charge are the racketeers. Racketeering dates back to the gangster activity of the early 20th century who profited the most from prostitution and bootlegging.
Many early forms of racketeering still exist today, such as protection, weapon smuggling, kidnapping, and drug smuggling. A protection racketeer offers a business protection from illegal outsider activity for pay and may threaten the same harm if the business doesn’t comply. The advancement of technology has enabled criminals to use cyber racketeering, or blocking a person’s data until they pay a “ransom”.
The RICO Act
In 1970, the U.S. Congress passed the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act to fight organized crime by enacting penalties. The act covers 35 crimes, but charges aren’t related to a specific crime.
To qualify as a white collar crime-RICO charge the government has to prove the following factors:
- An enterprise must exist.
- The enterprise impacted interstate commerce.
- The defendant must work for or have associations with the enterprise.
- The defendant committed two offenses within 10 years.
If convicted, the maximum penalties include up to 20 years in prison and fines twice the amount of the illegal profits or $250,000. Sometimes, the defendant must turn over illegally obtained assets.
The consequences of a white-collar crime can be long-lasting, but people don’t have to fight them alone. A lawyer may be able to devise a strategy to help the defendant counter the allegations.