Fraud is a serious crime. Convictions, and, in some cases, even allegations, could end your political or professional career. To make matters worse, you could face these allegations more easily than you might think.
Of course, the FBI is probably not interested in your future success if you are under suspicion of fraud. These federal agents typically have a different priority: securing material results for the vast resources they commit to their investigations.
How does the FBI investigate white-collar crime?
In no uncertain terms, the FBI states that corporate fraud is one of its highest priorities. Agents typically approach their investigations by collecting material evidence about your business, especially the following activities:
- Market manipulation or misrepresentation in hedge funds
- Tax misrepresentation, corporate status misuse or insider trading
- Deceptive accounting or transactional practices
The theme you might notice here is that the majority of these activities leave public records. FBI agents will probably have most, if not all, publicly obtainable information before they approach you. Furthermore, they would likely have correlated the information about your activities with information about the activities of your business and transactional partners.
Why would FBI agents ask for your help?
This veritable mountain of evidence begs the question of why FBI agents would try to enlist your help investigating possible fraud in your company or with one of your associates. In some cases, they could have a legitimate reason, such as requiring additional evidence to establish a pattern of a business associate’s intentional malfeasance.
In other cases, this could be a tried-and-true investigatory tactic. The agents might be playing to your ego and comparative legal ignorance, causing you to incriminate yourself while you supposedly assist their investigations.
In general, FBI agents are probably more knowledgeable than you about the law — especially in terms of what exactly constitutes fraud. If you do not have a level playing field, you could easily find yourself guilty by association.