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Irvine California White Collar Crime Defense Blog

Cyber crime penalties: are they too strict?

Needless to say, the Internet is hardly as simple as it was two decades ago. Because of its diverse and expansive global reach, countless crimes take place online. While these crimes can be incredibly damaging to the victim, many argue that the penalties for such actions are too severe. Californians charged with an Internet crime can often expect a long and arduous road ahead.

Those wading through the tough process of a cyber crime charge may benefit from learning more about federal efforts to combat the problem. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has recently added new departments to its cyber crime task force, including a Cyber Division at FBI headquarters, new Cyber Action teams and specially trained cyber squads. The Cyber Division aims to address Internet crimes in a timely and efficient manner, while the Cyber Action team can make last-minute international travels to combat computer intrusion cases. Cyber squads work toward protecting against computer intrusions, theft of personal information and other crimes. 

Traffic stops and cocaine: facts to know

Not only can a drug charge take extensive time and money to resolve; it can begin to place a damper on a person's life. Most states take cocaine charges seriously, yet penalties have become less severe in the last two decades. However, there are facts to know about such charges in the state. 

Less than two months ago, two Orange County men faced serious backlash after they were arrested after a routine traffic stop. As the Los Angeles Times reported, law enforcement agencies seized 308 pounds -- and $8.4 million -- in cocaine when the Nissan Versa pulled over during the traffic stop. Later, investigators obtained a search warrant for the home of the suspects, where they found a bunker filled with cocaine. The Times provided little comment on the suspects' information, as the investigation was ongoing at the time of the report.

Debunking 4 myths about identity theft

Identity theft is a pervasive crime. In 2014, many reports estimated that approximately 17.6 million Americans experienced identity theft, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Many myths persist regarding this activity, and these may make everyday citizens believe they are safer than they actually are. They can also make some people believe they have a good chance of getting away with this type of criminal offense. However, penalties for a conviction are serious; it is important to separate fact from fiction when it comes to identity theft.

The current outlook of internet crimes

As the internet has become a common part of everyday life over the last twenty years, most California households are familiar with the usual security threats. Although internet crimes can be serious, they are often incredibly complex to address. These types of crimes are relatively common and, according to some recent reports, incidents appear to be on the rise. 

CSO magazine speculates on internet crimes and how they remain a major threat in today's technology-driven world. Despite advancements in detection tools and other prevention methods, CSO argues that internet crime is worse than ever before. Why? The internet is a vast and open frontier; according to CSO, internet criminals rarely get caught. Law enforcement in regard to online crimes is also a complex area to navigate, as most of these crimes take place across international borders. Dovetailing from this issue, CSO also notes that the lack of legal evidence in many cases also makes internet crimes difficult to pinpoint. Furthermore, the resources often required to catch internet criminals can become exorbitant and limited, leaving many cases at the stage of the initial report.    

California's changing laws and how they affect shoplifting

A shoplifting charge may seem insignificant at first glance, yet when it comes to the bigger picture, such a crime can come with lasting effects. Even with the changes in California's shoplifting laws in recent years, those charged can deal with the repercussions for months and even years. The debate surrounding these changes appears to continue, but in the meantime, more recent reports show an increase in theft across the state. 

In 2014, LPM Insider explains that California passed Proposition 47, a law that would reduce punishment for countless people behind bars. With this change came the adjustment in shoplifting regulations, which now require that an item costs at least $950 before a shoplifter can be charged with a felony. The primary goal of these changes was to make an impact on the crippling number of the state's prison population, which would ultimately save the California $150 in the first year alone. These changes have certainly sparked debate in regard to shoplifting cases and the severity of penalties, as LPM points out that California is one of 17 states without a straightforward law surrounding retail theft.

Well-meaning people can get drawn into embezzlement

You may have never intended to commit a crime, but a financial emergency or difficult situation convinced you to take from your employer “just this once.” It could be easy to become caught up in a cycle of taking and justifying, especially if you feel your employers have more money than they need. Many Californians who are discovered embezzling from their employers never meant to cause harm, but found themselves in a vicious cycle that became more difficult to escape from as time went on.

As we have discussed in previous blogs, embezzlement is defined as the misuse of privilege or position, or the misappropriation of funds or property to which you were placed in a position of trust and authority. Some of the common ways employees might embezzle from their employers include the following:

  • Taking money from the petty cash envelope
  • Pocketing money instead of placing it in a cash register or safe
  • Giving customers an incorrect amount of change
  • Forging company checks and cashing them
  • Putting a nonexistent employee on the payroll

Which common tax myths can get me in trouble with the IRS?

It should come as no surprise to most Californians that there are a surprising number of myths surrounding the filing of taxes. Tax forms are complicated, and you may have been given false advice by well-meaning friends or associates when it comes to filing your own taxes. It is important to discern the truth before you leave something important out of your tax return or decide not to file at all, or you could face penalties from the Internal Revenue Service.

Intuit has provided clarification about some of the most common tax-related myths.

Accountant accused of bankruptcy fraud for 2010 case

California residents know that they are some of the most-taxed citizens in the nation making it important for them to understand and use the tax deductions and other tools available to them to avoid paying more than their fair share. While this is something people across the country do and is part and parcel of the system as it is created, there can sometimes be a fine line between what is a legitimate effort to reduce a tax burden and what may lead to criminal charges.

One man from San Diego County was both an accountant and an attorney and eight years ago he filed for bankruptcy. It is not known if his bankruptcy was a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13. Reports indicate that his unpaid tax balance for the five years prior to his bankruptcy filing was approximately $2.85 million and he had made an agreement with the Internal Revenue Service to pay some of this back along with other money for interest.

Why embezzlement is not only large corporate crime

When you hear the word "embezzlement," you may think only of million-dollar cases of large corporation white-collar crime. However, the truth is that embezzlement is a crime that encompasses a wide range of financial misdeeds in terms of business, and not only involves large corporations, but also touches small businesses.

Whether you own your own business or work for a large or small company, you should understand the crime of embezzlement to protect yourself from committing misdeeds that could be considered criminal. Understanding embezzlement and how it differs from other white-collar crimes can be helpful, especially if you face accusations of committing this crime.

Padding expenses is a type of fraud

For some who live or work in the Irvine area, a little padding of traveling expenses is not a big deal. It is one of those things that fall in the same gray area as embellishing donations or business overhead on your income tax returns. Everyone does it and nobody minds, right? The truth is, even these “small” things are considered fraud, but the real danger lies in this manner of thinking. Committing these little frauds and getting away with them is a type of conditioning; the success you experience makes it easier to commit bigger frauds.

California’s Dept. of Insurance explains that insurance fraud is one of the more popular forms of fraud, which is committed by people from all walks of life, including those in organized crime, as well as technical and professional business people. Typical means of doing this include overcharging for services or by including services that were never performed to everyday insurance policyholders who want to ensure their deductible is met or who may see their claim as a chance to make some money.

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