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White-Collar Crime

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Niomi: Still reading about accounting? Isn't that boring?
Sam: Are you kidding? All your greatest thieves used creative accounting! Enron, 74 billion dollars! Bernie Madoff, 65 billion! Even small thefts like looting the Malaysia Development Fund netted 2.7 billion.

Wage theft. Fraud. Bribery. Ponzi schemes. Insider trading. Labor racketeering. Embezzlement. Cybercrime. Copyright infringement. Money laundering. Identity theft. Forgery. Cooking the books. According with That Other Wiki, these are all white-collar crimes, the sort executed by a well-educated executives, lawyers, or business people. In place of the guns and knives used by street criminals, white collar criminals use front organizations, laptops, forged documents and scams to steal money and other assets in a systematic and large-scale way.

The Enron scandal in Real Life raised awareness about these sort of criminals. If the perpetrators are caught, fiction will often portray them as going to a Luxury Prison Suite or getting a plea bargain and facing house arrest and probation. How often this happens in Real Life (and to what degree) varies based on the severity of their crime, who was victimized and the public demands for justice. An executive who swindles a few wealthy people won't generate huge public calls for justice. However, an Amoral Attorney who scams thousands of poor retired couples out of their life savings may generate widespread calls for justice, so they may get a lengthy sentence.

Forensic Accounting is the most common tool for detecting such crimes, which is why sleuths are often advised to "Follow the money". The Intimidating Revenue Service also often has a hand in busting white-collar criminals, perhaps partly because local cops may lack the expertise to analyze sophisticated financial dealings.

The supertrope of Stealing from the Till, Penny Shaving, Fake Charity, 419 Scam, and Ponzi. If a religious organization is used as a means to scam people out of money, see Path of Inspiration. Compare the Corrupt Corporate Executive, who will often be involved in this. It's important to note that this type of crime could be considered the evolution of organized crime and The Mafia in general, since in times where there is more police technology and violence draws too much attention, the vast majority of the most professional criminal organizations have opted for semi-legitimate, less violent systems.

Not to be confused with Sinister Minister; that's a different kind of white collar.

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the fourth season of Aggretsuko, the new CEO Himuro manipulates Haida into cooking the books to raise company profits. Himuro justifies this to himself and Haida as being necessary to keep the company afloat.
  • Rebuild World:
    • The Friendly Shopkeeper Shizuka gets roped into Akira, Elena, and Sara’s plans to each pay for an expensive meal and Coordinated Clothes custom tailored to match the Lost Technology dress Akira gave to Sheryl. Since Shizuka isn’t as wealthy as the other three who handle a lot of money as mid-level hunters, she hides her expenses among her shops various accounts to make ends meet.
    • While working as an enforcer and go-between for Sheryl’s overlordship of all the slum gangs, the slum lord Shijima embezzles part of the profits from said Protection Racket.

    Comic Books 
  • In Arkham Asylum: Living Hell, Warren White is on trial for a massive investment scheme. He gets his trial transferred to Gotham for an easier insanity defense, which was probably the biggest mistake of his life.
  • The Punisher:
    • One arc has Frank go up against totally-not-Enron, culminating in blowing up a boat that held their major stockholders (they shouldn't have pointed out that they weren't really criminals, compared to the murderers and rapists he kills on a regular basis). It also introduced the Affably Evil Barracuda (the CEO's go-to guy for delicate problems), who proved so popular he got his own miniseries.
    • In The Punisher: Welcome Back, Frank, Mr. Payback is introduced shooting up a board meeting after listing the crimes the executives were guilty of. What he didn't know was that he accidentally killed an innocent cleaning lady during the attack, putting him on Frank's list.
  • PS238: The Revenant (a Batman expy) mentions that this is one of the reasons the authorities aren't particularly fond of him.
    Revenant: I think if one of my identities pays taxes, it's only fair to let the other seventeen off the hook, right?
  • The Simpsons: In an issue of Bartman, Bart and Milhouse see Comic Book Guy selling a recent issue of Radioctive Man, which they bought at regular price, selling at a mark up of several thousand percent. When they ask why it's so expensive, Comic Book Guy says that it is one of a few dozen that does not have the publisher's metallic logo. As Bartman, Bart discovers that Jimbo, Kearny, and Dolph are part of a scam at a particular paper mill that purposefully misprints a small number of issues so that they can be sold at an astronomic mark up.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The focus of Arbitrage, starring Richard Gere.
  • Boiler Room focuses on dishonest sales tactics and shady firms offering deals Too Good to be True to unsuspecting investors. The investors are too willing to make a quick buck on the stock market. They're unaware it's a "pump-and-dump" scam, where the operators create artificial demand for these phony companies before dumping their holdings so the stock price crashes. Even the protagonist is unaware that the firm he's working for is in fact fraudulent. He only realizes it's a con when he snoops around to check the firm's records. Wracked with guilt, he decides to shut down the firm for good by cooperating with the FBI in exchange for a light sentence.
    • Director Ben Younger stated he was inspired by the real-life rise and fall of Stratton Oakmont and other "boiler room" brokerages that went bust in the late 1990s.
  • Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room was largely about this trope.
  • In Mad Money, a group of Federal Reserve workers steal old $1 bills which are supposed to be destroyed from the mint. They end up getting away with it as well.
  • The focus of the drama/thriller Margin Call, is a fictionalized account of the 2008 Wall Street financial crisis. And yet it is NOT a straight case. A major point of the film is that their actions, while certainly deceptive and unethical, aren't actually illegal. Technically (purely technically), no crimes were committed. Which of course leads to the assumption that all ensuing events and their consequences condemn the fact that such techniques were legal to begin with.
  • White-collar crime provides the impetus for the events of Money Monster, when a swindled investor decides to take the host of a Financial advice show hostage to try and get his money back. He got swindled because he's a bit of an idiot, albeit a sympathetic one, and his hostage-taking would have gone much more badly for everyone if the producer and host of the show hadn't come over to his side.
  • Office Space revolves around this concept as the main characters try to steal money from their employers via a computer algorithm.
  • Figures into The Other Guys, which makes a conspicuous point of making the real villains not gangsters or drug dealers but wealthy businessmen.
  • Rush Hour 2: It turns out that the Red Dragon casino is giving out Counterfeit Cash to the winners.
  • Side Effects opens with Emily's husband getting out of jail after doing four years for insider trading. Also, it is possible to make money on the stock exchange by betting that a company's shares will go down, rather than up. If you know that a pharmaceutical company's new anti-depressant is going to get some very bad publicity for its side effects, then it's a pretty safe bet.
  • Speed Racer centers on a group of corrupt execs using the racing circuit to manipulate the stock market. Every major race is rigged for the most profitable results; one example given is a race where a particular driver crashed partway through, causing his car's maker's stocks to plummet - at which point the company's owner bought up the stock right before it recovered due to the announcement of a merger, an ad-hoc "pump-and-dump".
  • Tetris (2023): Robert Maxwell attempts to have Howard Lincoln and Minoru Arakawa of Nintendo sign a fraudulent contract for the handheld and console rights to Tetris, rights that he doesn't have since he failed to pay ELORG the necessary money to secure them. If the infamous Daily Mirror pension fraud scandal (which is also mentioned in the movie) is any indication, he has done such deals plenty of times in the past.
  • Related to the above, the actions of the Duke brothers in Trading Places (using inside information to try and corner the frozen concentrate orange juice market) were unethical and deceptive, but, at the time, not illegal in the commodities market (unlike the stock and bonds market). In fact, the movie was cited when they finally made it illegal in 2010, even being dubbed "The Eddie Murphy Rule".
  • And in Vabank this is what the antagonist does, which helps to make him (more) unsympathetic, and the Caper Crew that straightforwardly robs him - Just Like Robin Hood.
  • The Wolf of Wall Street is based on the memoir of white collar criminal Jordan Belfort, whose firm Stratton Oakmont used "pump-and-dump" schemes to defraud investors in the 1990's.

  • In the Bright Falls Mysteries by C.T. Phipps, local crime lord Lucien Lyons is making a bunch of Urban Fantasy exploitation films with real shifters and vampires. It is actually part of a massive money laundering scheme he's doing for the Vampire Nation that is currently having their casinos investigated.
  • City of Bones by Martha Wells: A thousand years After the End, there is a thriving trade in forged art and artifacts of the Survivor era. Scholars and collectors will both pay through the nose for such things, either for knowledge of the past or for simple prestige, so a detailed, well-researched forgery can make someone quite wealthy.
  • Discworld: Going Postal and Making Money deal with the finances of the Grand Trunks company cheating the inventor of the system out of his company and property, and crooked bank managers playing their own games with the banks, respectively. Boxed Crook Moist Von Lipwig is the hero of the two books, and probably one of the most honest people in those two books.
    • As it seems he's been set up to reform Ankh-Morpork's tax system, we can only wonder who has been stealing from whom.
  • Walter Jon Williams' Hardwired is rife with this. It's pretty violent, though; one episode of corporate sabotage involves murdering an executive to get access to the company's intranet.
  • Chapter 21 of The Pale King is a conversation between an IRS auditor and a businessman trying to falsify his tax report. He is given two options: jail, or filing a new report with the correct information and paying the late fees.
    • Claude suspects that the higher-ups at Post 047 are doctoring the records so that the site has a perfectly averaged productivity rate, which would make them appear less suspicious.
  • The narrator of Who Moved My Soap is incarcerated for fraud and is writing for the benefit of other convicted white-collar criminals.

    Live-Action TV 
  • CNBC's documentary series American Greed features the cases of notorious white-collar crime in the United States.
  • George Bluth's arrest for "creative accounting" at his development company is what starts off the plot of Arrested Development.
  • On Boardwalk Empire most of the characters are straight up blue collar bootleggers and/or gangsters but Nucky Thompson started out as a crooked politician and is not adverse to some white collar crime like crooked land deals. Probably his greatest regret is letting his wife get involved as a (knowing) patsy in the land deals needed for the expansion and paving of the White Horse Pike to smooth travel between Philadelphia and Atlantic City (she signed away the land to the Church, which gave them a great reputation as Catholic philanthopists but left Nucky with no money from the eventual road construction). Gangster Arnold Rothstein falls victim to a real estate company running a pump-and-dump scheme and plans to revenge by running a reverse scam on them. One of Nucky's associates was ruined when he invested in the original Ponzi Scheme.
  • Breaking Bad: Ted Beneke has been cooking the books for his family's company in order to keep it afloat and siphoning its funds for personal indulgent purchases. However, the way he's gone about it makes the discrepancies in the company's revenue very obvious, and eventually it prompts an audit by the IRS. Skyler is forced to help Ted fix his massive tax fraud because her name is also on the fraudulent tax papers, which means the IRS will investigate her as well, which would inevitably lead to the discovery of Walt and Skyler's drug dealing gains.
  • On Brothers & Sisters, William Walker embezzled his company's pension plan in order to buy a plot of land in the desert. Because the Army wanted the land, the Walker children were able to sell it to them at a profit before anyone noticed the money was gone.
    • And in the third season, William's son Tommy tried a similar scheme. It didn't work so well for him.
  • In one episode of Burn Notice, Michael pretends to join a group of executives planning a robbery, assuming they're going to steal some funds over the computer. Completely averted when they instead take a dozen hostages and plan on forcing a millionaire to transfer his money at gunpoint.
  • An episode of Castle dealt with someone murdered while engaged in corporate espionage.
  • Criminal Minds: The UnSub from "Parasite" was a conman running several Ponzi schemes. Problem arose when he began to crack under the mental strain of having to juggle multiple identities constantly (the man had two families in the same city). The situation quickly spiraled out of control, which resulted in the murders that the BAU team was called to investigate.
  • In Daredevil (2015), Wilson Fisk is no stranger to this, as Karen discovers that he has shell companies.
  • In Highway to Heaven, one character uses insider trading, including stealing the company's trash and hiring a disgruntled former employee for his insider information to start a series of deals so he can manipulate two companies' stock prices, gain control over the company's voting shares, and get rid of his enemies. This is all done in the name of "good" by the shows protagonist, an angel, who in other episodes, has an ethical dilemma over much simpler things, but white collar crime is apparently okay.
  • Leverage is all about getting revenge for these. These crimes range from fraud, embezzling, to money laundering. In the second episode of the series, the team realizes that a corrupt executive and the congressman in his pocket have stolen several hundred million dollars in small denominations of taxpayer money earmarked for Iraq. The plan is further enhanced by using the US government to wash all the dirty money.
  • Life has Ted Earley, who lives in Charlie's garage and manages his assets. Luxury Prison Suite averted— Ted was in with Charlie, who was in for murder.
  • Ryan is arrested for fraud in The Office.
    • Earlier, one of the Stamford transfers was a white collar ex-con.
  • Our Miss Brooks:
    • In "The Embezzled Dress", Miss Brooks fears going to prison for embezzlement after Mrs. Davis buys Miss Brooks a dress with the $25 Miss Brooks had been keeping in her room. Mrs. Davis thought the money was Miss Brook's rent money; in fact, it was the student banking funds.
    • Five of Walter's Denton's practical jokes see the actual fraud:
      • Using Mr. Conklin's name to request a cure for alcoholism in "Cure That Habit"
      • Putting Mr. Conklin's name on a draft notice in "Mr. Conklin's Induction Notice"
      • "Spare That Rod!": Altering the address on a war-time letter to previous Madison principal Mr. Darwell, to read as a current letter to Mr. Conklin. The letter is a threat from Mr. Stone to fire Mr. Conklin (actually Mr. Darwell) if he doesn't cease running the school in a "dictatorial manner".
      • "Turnabout Day" has Walter Denton (with Stretch Snodgrass's help) forge a letter from Mr. Stone ordering Mr. Conklin to put the wacky school holiday into effect.
      • "Wild Goose Chase" sees Walter trick Mr. Conklin over the telephone: he pretends to be a radio quiz host and claims Mr. Conklin has won a free T.V. from Sherry's Department Store.
  • While the DiMeo crime family from The Sopranos is no stranger to street violence, drug trafficking, contract killing, and traditional crimes committed by The Mafia, they are heavily involved in illegal construction, credit card fraud, identity theft, mortgage fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, and bribery. In many ways, this has allowed them to survive in a time where they are constantly embattled by the feds, the RICO law, and their own internal problems.
  • This sets off the plot to 2 Broke Girls: Caroline's father is arrested for running a Ponzi Scheme.
  • As the name suggests, White Collar is about a Boxed Crook brought in by the FBI to investigate this sort of crime.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Ditto Cyberpunk2020, including like in the previous example extractions (read: kidnappings) of Corporate VIPs.
  • The Corporations in Shadowrun engage in a variety of hiring shadowrunners to do their dirty deeds ranging from small things like stealing the lunch orders of the rival's corporate meeting to ordering the murder of a rival CEO.

    Video Games 
  • While the actual investigations in Ace Attorney are Always Murder, the smuggling ring Lang is chasing after is engaged in a number of white collar illegal operations. Of note is the forging of money using the embassy printing press that has damaged Zheng Fa's economy.
  • While the Grand Theft Auto series focuses more on violent crime, one of the activities in Grand Theft Auto V involves being able to play the stock market. A string of assassination missions will affect the in game market, allowing the player to use their insider knowledge of a crime they are about to commit to their advantage. If done correctly the player can turn tens of millions into a few billion just by buying and selling certain stocks at opportune times.
  • One of the targets in Hitman (2016) is Claus Hugo Strandburgh, an investment banker who nearly bankrupted Morocco with massive investment fraud. Interestingly, Agent 47 isn't hired to kill him to punish him for his crimes, but because a Moroccan military leader wants to use his crimes as a pretense to initiate a military coup that the client wants to foil.
  • Gianna Parasini from the Mass Effect series deals with corporate crimes. You can help her out on a few occasions. The planet of Noveria where she works in the first game seems to suffer from this endemically.
  • Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People: In "Dangeresque 3: The Criminal Projective", one of the ways Dangeresque can get Baron Darin Diamonocle to cooperate is threatening his Villain Cred with the threat of being transferred to Tri Lambda Penitentiary, a "nerd prison" full of white-collar criminals.
  • This is part of the Auntie Shu Boys questline in Watch_Dogs 2 and how the Big Bad is taken down. The ASB are accessing the ocean cables to get insider knowledge on the New York Stock Exchange and are using it for their own financial gain, which makes them enemies of DedSec. They were given access by Dušan Nemec, Blume's CTO after he used the Bellwether system to play the stock markets in 2007 (also causing the 2007 Financial Crisis) as an early beta test for Blume. Exposing this gets Dušan arrested in the ending.

    Visual Novels 
  • Discussed in Double Homework. Dennis is in summer school because he spent much of the regular school year writing code for his father’s online casino. It’s eventually revealed that, at his father’s direction, Dennis wrote the code so that the casino would be a scam.

    Web Animation 
  • Gossip City: Maezawa and the other managers have been embezzling money from the company. They faked a 50 million dollar order error and tried to make Tsukino take the blame for it. Mamoru, who recently got the company from his brother Leon, wasn't fooled and fired them.
  • Revenge Films: In this story, Mr. A has been embezzling funds and Mr. B took it on his own to catch Mr. A. Mr. A went ballistic and went on a manhunt for Mr. B so he can silence him before he reveals everything, even going as far as to go to someone's house and go through their address book for Mr. B.
  • RomCom Manga Chan: Ayame Gouyoku passed her subcontractor Kent as one of her own employees to make herself a subcontractor to Mary Toyota's firm, which is contract fraud. After Mary calls her out for her stunt, Kent narrates that Ayame committed several instances of contract fraud in the past, to which she had to resign.
  • Sekai No Fushigi: In Helped out a girl at work, but turns out she's actually a…, Tsukasa reveals to the manager that Rumi planted a document entrusted to her into Akane's desk to get her fired. When Akane takes her to a meeting with the CEO, she is revealed to be actually a spy sent by him to investigate Rumi for charges of embezzlement, which leads to the latter getting fired and then filed a lawsuit against.
  • Trouble Busters:
    • Richard has been embezzling money from his company by buying things for his mistress Chloe. His wife Hillary has been investing in the company to cover him but when she found out about the affair, she divorced and exposed him.
    • Aiden turns out to not only have embezzled the company's funds and framed it on Adam, but upon further investigation, he also forged documents.


    Western Animation 
  • This is the main motivation of Captain Planet villain Looten Plunder.
  • The Simpsons:
    • This is the case of crimes committed by Mr. Burns to satisfy his greed.
    • In "Sideshow Bob Roberts", Sideshow Bob is convicted of voter fraud for fixing the mayoral election - and is sentenced to Springwood Minimum Security Prison and joins the prison rowing team to race against Princeton.
    • Cecil Terwilliger, the younger brother of the aforementioned Sideshow Bob, had his first appearance in "Brother from Another Series", where he conned his way into building a dam and cut back on the building materials to embezzle the funds.
  • Sponge Bob Squarepants:
    • There have been instances in which Mr. Krabs has committed multiple acts of corporate corruption to increase his fortune.
    • Like his archnemesis, Plankton is not above of cheating, fraud, or sabotage to defeat his rival.

    Real Life 
  • Most Ponzi Schemes go bust after a short time. Bernie Madoff was different because of the size and surprising stability he operated for many years by simply promising moderate but reliable rates of return. It went unnoticed by the SEC despite pleas from Ignored Expert Harry Markopolos, who doubted Madoff's numbers. Madoff managed to keep it up until the 2008 recession, at which the Ponzi imploded when people demanded their monies.note  That Madoff was chummy with regulators and Jewish charities shocked many, as his family donated generously to them for years and he himself pioneered the trading technology that was later used to develop the NASDAQ, of which he was chairman of at one point. At least five suicides have been attributed to his crime (including his son Mark in 2010; his sister Sondra and brother-in-law Marvin in 2022), and earned old Bernie a century and a half in the can despite his genuine regret and subsequent apology, as well as an attempt to get him a much more reasonable sentence of seven years due to his advanced age. Madoff even attempted to have then-President Donald Trump pardon him in 2019, but Trump ignored it given the severity of Madoff's crimes. An attempt at a compassionate release after it was revealed that he was terminally ill with chronic kidney disease also failed. Madoff ultimately died in prison from the disease on April 14, 2021.
  • The 2015 FIFA corruption case, aka FIFAGate, is perhaps one of the greatest examples of white-collar crime in current times. According with That Other Wiki, the 2015 arrests centre on the use of bribery, fraud and money laundering to corrupt the issuing of media and marketing rights for FIFA games in the Americas, estimated at $150 million, including at least $110 million in bribes related to the Copa América Centenario to be hosted in 2016 in the United States.
  • While the American Mafia has its hand in traditional bread-and-butter crimes such as extortion, illegal gambling, and loansharking, it also made forays into crimes such as labor union racketeering, political corruption, Ponzi schemes and stock fraud.
    • Carmine Lombardozzi, a capo for the Gambino crime family, was a specialist in securities fraud. He and his minions engineered many stock frauds over the years via "boiler rooms," which were nothing more than dingy offices minimally furnished with a well of telephones, sucker lists, and blackboards in order to chalk their sales, but used fancy-looking names to dupe the "suckers" into believing the call was legit. The scammers would "cold call" the "suckers" (mainly unsophisticated investors) daily, touting worthless stocks to artificially drive up demand before dumping their holdings to drive the price down.
  • One of the oldest white collar scandals, the South Sea Bubble of 1720 (in which the South Sea Company inflated their stock prices through various fraudulent means to create a speculative bubble of mind-boggling magnitude) led to the passing of some of the first laws against investment fraud.
  • The Enron scandal — the focus of the documentary Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room — raised a lot of awareness about accounting fraud. The fallout from Enron led to the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which stiffened penalties against those who knowingly "cook the books." Enron's downfall and a spate of other accounting scandals at the same time triggered the bankruptcy of one of the major accounting firms, Arthur Andersen.
  • Before Enron and Bernie Madoff, Crazy Eddie and ZZZZ Best became case studies about securities fraud. Both firms imploded when they couldn't keep up with the charade even after going public as they "cooked the books" to make themselves look attractive on paper.
    • Crazy Eddie was a consumer electronics chain based in the New York City area best known for its ads featuring a "crazy" man played by radio DJ Jerry Carroll (who modeled his persona after eccentric TV salesman Earl "Madman" Muntz). Despite this, they struggled to hide the fraud and the cat came out of the bag when the SEC did its own audit after Crazy Eddie was cited for possible tax evasion. It convinced Sam Antar to testify against his cousin Eddie, who fled to Israel but wasn't arrested and extradited back until 1993. Sam now works as an expert advising regulators on accounting fraud, while Eddie lived in relative obscurity until his death in 2016.
    • An investigation on bogus credit card charges of carpet cleaning company ZZZZ Best by the Los Angeles Times led to the unraveling of one of the biggest accounting scandals involving fake restoration jobs and revealing that the whole thing was just a Ponzi scheme. It landed whiz-kid founder Barry Minkow to federal prison in 1988. After Minkow's release in 1995, he became a pastor, but old habits die hard and he pled guilty to securities and mail fraud, serving a 5-year sentence and paying several multi-million restitutions for the rest of his life.
  • Martha Stewart was found guilty of lying about receiving a legal stock tip, but the founder of the company selling the stock was itself guilty of insider trading. Stewart sold because she saw the founder selling.
    • Insider trading itself is a complicated (yet oddly simple) crime: if you trade on a stock knowing what the stock is going to do, then you're guilty. The thing that makes it complicated, however, is that proving prior knowledge is difficult at best; without written records or witness testimony, it is almost impossible, in fact. The Securities and Exchange Commission will prosecute to the full extent of the law, though.
  • Some scandals, particularly the Norbourg affair, in Quebec have led to the expression "criminels à cravate" ("tie-wearing criminals").
  • The famed computer hacker Kevin Mitnick, in his autobiography Ghost in the Wires, describes the surreal feeling of being the only white-collar criminal in a juvenile hall full of murderers and rapists after one of his earliest arrests.
  • The spectacular collapse of Barings Bank, the world's second oldest merchant bank (est'd 1762) was caused by the machinations of a single employee, who, in an attempt to cover for a bad investment, ended up going on an increasingly disastrous spree of high-risk speculative gambles that dug the company into a $1.3 billion hole (and no one noticed because the man was essentially appointed to be his own auditor via an administrative oversight).
  • While Gordon Gekko was inspired by many corporate raiders of the 1980s, it was Ivan Boesky who served as the basis for this character, including the famous "Greed is good" line. Boesky made his fortune in corporate takeovers, some of which were brazen, with massive purchases occurring only a few days before a corporation announced a takeover. Although this was illegal at the time, prosecutions were rare until Boesky was prosecuted for insider trading, earning him a prison sentence of 3 and a half years and a fine of $100 million. This forced him to cooperate with the federal government and testify against Michael Milken, a Wall Street financier known for funding hostile takeovers, and although he was released after two years, Boesky was banned from working in the securities industry.
    • In addition to the above, this is how Drexel Burnham Lambert was brought down, due to the machinations of Michael Milken, the junk bond king. He was known for financing leveraged buyouts, including that of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts' run on RJR Nabisco. After Boesky decided to inform on Milken, Rudy Giuliani, the aggressive US Attorney who went after The Mafia, decided to probe Drexel and Milken. For two years, Drexel denied any criminality, but Giuliani wouldn't have any and threatened to press racketeering charges on Milken. As the result of a plea bargain, he pled guilty to lesser charges of securities fraud and served 2 years in prison. Plus, while Drexel ducked a racketeering indictment, its reputation was shattered to the point that it went bankrupt in 1990. If that wasn't worse, it gave leveraged buyouts and speculative-grade debt ("junk-rated" bonds) a bad name.
  • The infamous Bank of Commerce and Credit International (lightly fictionalized in the film The International) was known to regularly dip into more blue-collar crimes (like kidnapping, extortion, and a few cases of murder that were never formally connected to them) when their cadre of regular white-collar fraudsters were not up to task.
  • In 1989, there was a then-rare occurrence of this in the tech industry when MiniScribe, who made hard drives for PCs, Macs, and other desktop computers, announced that they'd been padding their sales numbers for years. It turned out that after losing an important supply contract with IBM for the PC/XT and PC/AT, they took the advice of a "turnaround expert" who basically told them to fake it until they made it; the biggest story of the time was how MiniScribe employees faked shipping records by sending boxes full of bricks or other heavy, worthless objects between the warehouses in the US and the factory in Singapore. By the end of the year, they had filed for bankruptcy and agreed on a sale to rival HDD maker Maxtor, which took place in January of 1990. YouTuber Tech Time Traveler covered the MiniScribe story in a mini-documentary, "One of the worst frauds in history: The Miniscribe 'Bricked' Hard Drive disaster."
  • As with Madoff, Allen Stanford's Ponzi "bank" scammed its customers through CDs,note  meaning people placed their life savings at his mercy with his free-spending ways. While he spent some of it building Antigua's infrastructure and donating to charities, most was spent wining and dining with politicians. It was not until 2009 when the SEC raided Stanford's Houston headquarters and ordered his arrest, during which he even tried hightailing to Antigua but was captured before he could escape. Swindled has an overview of Stanford's Ponzi scheme, which was worth $8 billion on paper. Like Madoff, Stanford received a Longer-Than-Life Sentence despite appealing for leniency. Plus, he lost many sports sponsorship deals and was banned from the securities industry. The government of Antigua also stripped him of his knighthood as well.
  • The infamously disastrous Fyre Festival turned out to be one. Billy McFarland and Ja Rule attempted to launch a "luxurious" music festival experience for moneyed millennials so as to promote their newly established musical talent booking app Fyre and hired models and the hottest influencers to advertise the festival over social media. The organization process was a very deeply troubled one, however, and after the first-day attendees revealed the Shoddy Shindig reality behind the glossy Very False Advertising, the whole thing quickly imploded and was canceled. McFarland was sued by attendees seeking refunds and former employees of McFarland immediately told the FBI everything they knew when McFarland started trying to pull another scam.
  • Theranos was touted by Stanford dropout Elizabeth Holmes as a breakthrough healthtech company with its claims of a highly accurate blood test system that required only small drops of blood. This made her a paper billionaire who aspired to become the medical devices industry's Steve Jobs by persuading Fox Corporation CEO Rupert Murdoch, the Walton family (owners of Walmart), and Tim Draper to invest in her company. Holmes's downfall came through in 2015 when Stanford medical professor John Ioannidis and The Wall Street Journal investigative journalist John Carreyrounote  exposed Theranos's deceptive practices to the public, causing it to collapse overnight and earn the ire of regulators despite Holmes's attempts to strongarm Carreyou and Ioannidis with legal threats. Holmes ultimately earned an 11-year sentence in 2022 for wire fraud, while her ex-boyfriend and former president Sunny Balwani was sentenced to 13 years. Holmes's actions have been the subject of documentary The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley and was fictionalized in the TV series The Dropout.
  • Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) had a glowing reputation as a techbro to the point that FTX Trading became the third largest crypto exchange. That all changed in 2022 after he was accused of running a Ponzi scheme by stealing up to $10 billion from clients to binge-spend and hide the debts of another firm he owned, triggering the equivalent of a cryptocurrency bank run. SBF even tried blaming his employees and hightailing to the Bahamas, but was deported back and now faces a life sentence. FTX's bankruptcy indirectly led to the collapse of crypto-friendly banks such as Signature Bank, Silicon Valley Bank and Silvergate Bank in early 2023 due to a lax regulatory environment. SBF is also facing a related trial in early 2024 on allegations he bribed Chinese government officials to unfreeze bank accounts belonging to his hedge fund in Hong Kong.