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Securities fraud and insider trading


The most common white-collar crime is fraud concerning securities. This fraud is chargeable when a person (or corporation/entity) violates federal securities laws during the purchase or sale of securities. Violations of such laws can occur in a number of different ways.

The Act of 1933 is one of the primary governing bodies for federal securities law. Breaches of federal law include the following:

  • "Purchasing or selling unregistered securities with the Securities and Exchange Commission" (SEC)
  • Insider trading
  • Purposefully making false statements or important omissions of fact in documents supplied to the SEC
  • Participating in interstate discussions with potential buyers of securities, wherein negotiations employ any type of plan to defraud (including statements or omissions of fact that are intended to mislead buyers)

The following elements must be evinced for a defendant to be convicted of securities fraud:

  • The defendant used a plan or device to defraud someone; made a false statement concerning a material fact; or did not disclose a material fact, which resulted in misleading statements from the defendant
  • The defendant's acts (or omissions) were connected with the purchase or sale of securities
  • The defendant used the telephone or mail in connection with these acts (or omissions)
  • The defendant acted in an effort to defraud buyers or sellers of securities

The resulting consequences of this white-collar crime can involve years behind bars and millions of dollars in fines (for a corporation).

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