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What constitutes securities fraud?

White collar crimes are a strange and often misunderstood classification. It is one of the few areas in the law where a person can take actions that may result in quite serious legal repercussions and not even know that they are actually breaking the law in some cases. Generally, a white collar crime means that a person or persons has abused privilege or knowledge in order to enrich themselves unfairly, but the lines can easily become blurry. One of the most common and most misunderstood examples of white collar crime is securities fraud.

Securities fraud is the broad umbrella that includes headline favorites such as "insider trading." In general, securities fraud encompasses crimes where someone either uses or withholds specific information for their own gain. If that seems like a very broad umbrella, it certainly is.

On one hand, someone who knows certain information about the internal dealings of his or her company may know that the company is soon going to be experiencing hard times. This person may then choose to unload significant portion of his or her stock in the company in order to get an influx of cash before the stock loses some or much of its value.

On the other hand, that same individual may attempt to secure investors by distributing knowingly false information , such as doctoring financial reports or claiming the company is much healthier than it may be. Securities fraud can also mean withholding information rather than distributing false information, such as failing to mention factors that would reasonably need to be known by an investor.

Securities fraud is one of the areas of white collar crime that is difficult to pin down with precision. If you have been charged with securities fraud or are concerned that you may be unintentionally committing a white collar crime, it is never too early to seek qualified legal counsel. With the assistance of an experienced attorney, you can deepen your understanding of white collar laws as they apply to your situation and ensure that your rights will remain protected throughout the process.

Source: findlaw, "White Collar Crime," accessed Jan. 12, 2017

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