White Collar Crimes
White-collar crimes are nonviolent illegal activities perpetrated by business people or government officials. Edwin Sutherland coined the term “white-collar crime” in 1939 while speaking to the American Sociological Society. The main motivation for a white-collar crime is financial gain. Ponzi schemes, insider trading, embezzlement, copyright infringement, money laundering, identity theft, forgery, insurance fraud, tax evasion and fraud are all examples of white-collar crimes. Greed fuels the actions of those who commit white-color crimes.
According to the FBI, white-collar crimes are defined as “those illegal acts which are characterized by deceit, concealment, or violation of trust and which are not dependent upon the application or threat of physical force or violence.” It is estimated that white-collar crimes cost the US up to $660 billion dollars each year.
While the white-collar crimes lack the violence present in many other types of crimes, there are still victims that are affected by the actions of the criminal. The money that is taken can devastate a business, family, or individual. Victims may not be able to recover from the loss of their livelihood, savings, or investments.
White-collar crimes can be very difficult to prosecute because the criminals use multiple steps and transactions to cover their steps. Whistleblowers from within the company are usually the ones who bring attention to the crimes that are taking place. If someone is found guilty of white-collar crimes in the United States the consequences for the crime can vary. The punishments for some white-collar crimes have become harsher since the Enron Scandal. Under the leadership of George W. Bush, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 was passed by congress. Some possible punishments if someone is found guilty of a white-collar crime include fines, a prison sentence, community service, and probation, or a combination of punishments. The penalty for white-collar crimes in the United States is not nearly as severe as those in China where the death penalty is a possible consequence.
According to the FBI, one of the biggest white-collar threats is Corporate Fraud. Cooperate fraud not only directly affect the victims; it also can cause serious ripples in the United States economy. The branch of the FBI that investigates corporate fraud has three primary focuses: Falsification of financial information, self-dealing by corporate insiders, and fraud with mutual hedge funds.