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Understanding White Collar Crime

There are many crimes committed around the country every year. The ones that you do not hear much about, but cost the country $300 million annually, are what is called a white collar crime. If they are big crimes, the story will hit the front page of the paper, be a passing blip on a webpage or if the crime is so big, the story goes national, only then does the public become aware of these crimes. However, they happen every day in the workplace, in government offices, and in non-profit organizations. While white collar crime affects thousands of people a year in this country, the victims of these crimes are often faceless and nameless.

What is White Collar Crime?

White-collar crimes are those committed by business and government employees. The FBI calls it the crime of lying, cheating and stealing. Edwin Sutherland coined the term in 1939 in a speech to the American Sociological Society. His white collar crime definition states that it is a, “crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation.” They are non-violent crimes and prosecutions are hard to get for several reasons (Cornell Law)

White collar crime examples:

  • Bribery
  • Anti-trust violations
  • Credit Card fraud
  • Internet Crimes
  • Phone and telemarketing fraud
  • Healthcare fraud
  • Bankruptcy Fraud
  • Environmental Law Violations
  • Insurance Fraud
  • Mail Fraud
  • Tax Evasion
  • Financial Fraud
  • Insider Trading
  • Counterfeiting
  • Public Corruption
  • Economic Espionage
  • Trade Secret/Patent Theft
  • Embezzlement

That’s a lot of crime and it affects the lives and financial well-being of many people, as well as a great deal of money and energy on the part of law enforcement, to ferret out the facts of these crimes. These acts of public distrust account for failed businesses and broken families. Some of the biggest victims in these crimes are the immediate families and loved ones of those that perpetrate these acts, whose lives can be shattered when the white collar criminal is found out.

Being safe in your workplace is always important, know how to care for such a thing here.

White collar crime cases

Al Capone is one of the most notorious white collar criminals. Although his reputation was that of a mobster, his crimes were pure white collar and included a laundry list of crimes. The Bureau of Investigation was not what the FBI is today, and with limited resources, it took time to figure out how to catch Capone. The laws for racketeering were not what they are today, and the United States was under the prohibition laws of the day. He was finally convicted in 1931 by the Treasury Department for failing to pay his taxes on his ill-gotten gains. So, in the end the crime that he was charged with tax evasion.

Have you heard the term Ponzi scheme? This little gem was the brainchild of Charles Ponzi who spun the good times of the 1920’s and promised a 50% return on your investment in 90 days. Everyone wanted a piece of this pie in the sky, and he was able to keep the scam running for a little while, due to the overwhelming number of investors who were pouring money into his business, the Security Exchange Company. It was not a new swindle, but Ponzi used the gullibility of the people coupled with mass media in the press to help perpetuate lies.

The king of the Ponzi scheme, Bernie Madoff, has swindled money that is still on the loose across the world today. He was caught, but no one has been able to find all of the billions that were stolen. He had a much longer run at this scheme, than Ponzi did, and after being caught in 2008, he was convicted of eleven federal felonies, and at the age of 71 garnered a 150-year prison sentence. His life is one of high stakes gambling and shattered lives but was one of the longest running Ponzi schemes ever prosecuted.

Everyday White Collar Crimes

The above-mentioned are the big fish and the ones whose stories were national sensations. However, there are white collar crimes committed every day in our local communities. When found out, the employees are often asked to quietly leave their job in lieu of prosecution. The problem with this approach is the people who have committed these crimes are then free to do it again, as they have no public record of their wrongdoing and there are laws that would prohibit a former employee from revealing this information, which allows the person to continue their behavior at their next place of employment.

Finding White Collar Crime

Established in 1978, the National White Collar Crime Center began its existence through the Leviticus Project. The Project takes its name from the Biblical verse Leviticus 19:13: “Thou shall not defraud thy neighbor, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until morning.” In 1991, they turned their focus to expanding their scope from their 20 state presence to provide training, the creation of databases, and the provisions of analytical services to its members, giving them a partner in their fight against white collar crime.

Don’t be a Victim

It was Bernie Madoff’s son’s that turned him in for his crimes, when he confessed his scheme. His actions to provide for his families wealth in a nefarious manner became the downfall of his dynasty. White collar crime may pay off for a little while, but in the end, the punishment is not worth the crime.

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