Facebook For Financial Felons: Utah Introduces White-Collar Felon Registry
On Wednesday, March 11, 2015, the Utah legislature approved a measure to create the country’s first white-collar criminal offender registry. Similar to convicted sex offender registries, the measure, White Collar Registry H.B. 378, calls for the publication of the offenders’ names and alias, a recent photograph, a physical description, and a list of their crimes. The registry, which will be available through a website maintained by the Utah Attorney General’s Office, will list certain white-collar felons convicted since late 2005. The offenses include securities fraud, mortgage fraud, and money laundering crimes.
First-time offenders will appear on the registry for 10 years or until they complete their sentences, while repeat offenders run the risk of being permanently featured. To vanish from the registry completely, offenders must pay full restitution to their victims. Unlike sex-offender registries, convicted white-collar criminals will not be required to report their listing to employers or neighbors.
Sean Reyes, the state’s attorney general, came up with the idea for the registry while practicing as a defense attorney. According to Reyes, white-collar crime has become an epidemic in Utah, which is known for its vulnerability to financial fraud due to the trusting nature of its citizens. Representative Mike McKell, who proposed the legislation, echoed this sentiment, describing Utah as “a hot bed for financial fraud committed by repeat offenders” in a press release announcing the introduction of the registry. By providing this information to consumers in a readily accessible manner, lawmakers hope that Utahns are more equipped to make educated financial decisions.
The proposal, which was overwhelmingly approved by Utah lawmakers, is expected to be signed by Governor Gary Herbert. While it remains to be seen whether white-collar felon registries will gain traction elsewhere across the country, financial schemers in Utah will soon be electronically marked with a proverbial scarlet letter.