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Irvine California White Collar Crime Defense Blog

Man arrested on way to Google's Mountain View headquarters

Most people in Irvine are likely familiar with the old saying about sticks and stones being able to break bones yet words not having the power to cause harm. Some might take this literal fact a license to say whatever they want. yet while it is true that words are not themselves able to hurt people, the threats that they imply can. For this reason, law enforcement officials are authorized to apprehend people that they believe to be making dangerous and credible threats. 

This fact was on full display when authorities arrested a man who reportedly drove all the way from his home in Maine to confront people at Google's Mountain View headquarters. They had received a tip from their counterparts in Maine stating that the man planned on driving to Google headquarters to speak to someone about his YouTube channel being shut down, and had implied that if he did not receive the answer that he wanted, he would become violent. Mountain View officials stopped him before he was able to reach Googe's headquarters and found three baseball bats inside of his car. The man had also had run-ins with law enforcement during his trip across the country. Authorities in Iowa reported responding to two separate incidents the man was involved in. 

How people inadvertently commit tax fraud

April 15th is right around the corner, so you need to start thinking about your taxes if you have not already. You should prepare yourself for a reduced tax return because reports from the Internal Revenue Service indicate that tax refunds are down by an average of 16.7 percent. 

In addition to tempering expectations on your returns, you also need to be mindful of the litany of mistakes people make on their tax forms. A single mistake may result in a criminal charge of tax fraud. Here are a few of the most common ways people mess up on their tax forms. 

Cyberattacks threaten certain business owners

In corporate America, data systems hold valuable consumer information, including credit card numbers, Social Security numbers and other confidential data. In this day and age of advanced technology, these systems run the risk of becoming victimized by cyberattacks. Cyberhackers can gain access to these information systems and instantly obtain consumer data. The problem lies in the fact that incidents of data breaches have increased significantly within the last several years.

A study conducted by the Kaspersky Law found that data breaches have increased by 11 percent in 2017 which equated to a $1.3 million increase in loses for small and medium businesses.  This study gathered data from 30 countries and 5,000 businesses to look at the global effect of cyberattacks. These data breaches can have such an affect on the bottom line that 58 percent of small business owners participating in the study admitted that they place more concern on encountering a major data breach than they do suffering from a fire, flood, physical break-in at the office or even a transit strike. Small and medium business may employ anywhere from one up to 250 employees in each organization. A single data breach may be enough to end a company altogether.

What is bankruptcy fraud?

Despite the potential benefits it can afford to people deeply in debt, many in California seek to avoid filing for bankruptcy. Depending on the type of bankruptcy you file, it may involve selling off some of your assets, in a process called liquidation, in order to satisfy your debt. According to Cornell Law School, when a debtor filing for bankruptcy seeks to conceal or misrepresent the assets that he or she has in order to prevent their liquidation, he or she commits bankruptcy fraud. 

Bankruptcy fraud can result in federal charges. If convicted of either the act or the mere intention of committing bankruptcy fraud, you can face a fine of up to $250,000, a prison term of up to five years, or both. 

California crime trend statistics

To understand the criminal justice system in California, it is important to know more about  criminal offenses. In particular, it will help to assess the trends regarding illegal activity in the Golden State.

There are many pieces of intriguing data intriguing data from the Public Policy Institute of California. Here is a look at crime rate trends in California tracked by the PPIC.

More common tax myths you should know about

We discussed several tax myths in this blog last year. Now that tax time is here again, it’s time to revisit some of the common myths surrounding taxes in the United States. At the law office of Ron Cordova Attorney-at-Law, we understand the desire to limit your tax burden. However, when you and other California residents are too quick to believe some of the falsehoods about taxes currently going around, you may face serious penalties.

FindLaw has described some of the tax myths that, at first glance, you may think are legitimate, but fall apart under scrutiny. They are as follows:

  • “You don’t have to report your tips as taxable income.” All income is taxable, according to the IRS. If you make more than $20 in one month, you must report this income to your employer.
  • “Taxes are illegal or unconstitutional.” This claim is blatantly false.
  • “You can claim the home office tax write-off if you have a desk and computer.” Actually, you can only claim a write-off if you are self-employed and have an area in your home, such as a spare bedroom, set aside exclusively for your self-employed business.

Reviewing the different forms of phishing

Phishing typically ranks among the most common forms of internet crimes. Yet the general definition of a phishing scheme is often so vague that it can be difficult identifying cases where it has actually happened. Indeed, many come to our team here at Ron Cordova Attorney at Law after having been accused of phishing unaware that they have been doing anything wrong. If someone in Irvine has accused you of running a phishing scam, knowing what types of phishing scams have been identified can help you answer those accusations. 

In general, phishing has been defined as attempts to steal someone's personal information online by baiting with what appears to be legitimate information (such as posing as a representative of an established company or a trusted brand). According to the Infosec Institute, specific forms of phishing include: 

  • Vishing: Using Voice over IP to manipulate caller IDs to deceive intended victims 
  • SMiSHing: Sending out mass texts soliciting information
  • W2 phishing: Posing as a company's representative asking to collect W2's from employees
  • Pharming: Using Domain Name System cache poisoning to direct intended victims a malicious website
  • Ransomware phishing: Holding a computer hostage by infecting it with malware disseminated through emails made to look legitimate
  • Dropbox and Google Docs phishing: Gaining access to personal information by inviting intended victims to log into a website using their Dropbox or Google Docs accounts

RICO cases see increase in 2018

To many people in California, it may seem that there has been an increase in the number of white collar criminal cases across the nation. Certainly, there have been numerous high-profile cases that have played out across a variety of venues in the last few years. However, it is important to take a look at the nature of some of these cases to get the full picture of what might be happening.

According to data from the Transactional Record Access Clearinghouse, the number of civil cases involving charges based on the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations law grew from 693 in 2017 to 1,405 in 2018. Forbes reports that the RICO law, originally put into effect in 1970 to go after leaders and members of organized crime, has seen its reason for existence evolve. More and more today, this law is being used to go after civil, not criminal, charges for white collar offenses.

What is money laundering?

Money laundering is the crime of receiving money through illegal activity, hiding it and then using it through legitimate channels. If you have ever watched a mob movie, you have probably seen something about this process.

Mob bosses aside, people still get charged and convicted of the crime. What is money laundering? Take a look at some of the hallmarks of this white-collar crime.

Vague insider trading laws cause confusion

If you read or hear about people in New York who have been accused of insider trading, you might wonder what exactly leads to these types of allegations. In its most basic form, insider trading involves a person benefitting by trading stocks based upon knowledge gained due to a privileged position of some sort. Often, these situations involve a person who works for a company and who has access to company information that those outside the company would not have. 

Interestingly, The New York Times highlights that in the United States the laws that deal with these offenses do not even directly reference insider trading. This gap may well cause a lot of confusion among defendants and potentially even open the door for people to fall prey to such charges unknowingly.

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