Who Is More Likely To Commit White Collar Crimes?

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White collar crime has made plenty of headlines in 2020. In July, investment bank and financial services company Goldman Sachs agreed to pay a $3.9 billion settlement in the 1MDB scandal. BMW is also being investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over claims that manipulated its sales figures. This type of crime has always been an issue in the world of finance, but who is more likely to commit them?

According to one study by Paul M. Klenowski and Kimberly D. Dodson of Oxford University, a “considerable percentage” of white-collar offenders:

  • Are gainfully employed
  • Are middle-aged
  • Are caucasian
  • Will commit their first offense between their late thirties to their mid-forties
  • Have middle-class backgrounds
  • Have some higher education
  • Are married
  • Have moderate to strong ties with family, religious organizations, and their community
  • Have a criminal history
  • Do not engage in vice

Are more neurotic, less agreeable, and less conscientious than their colleagues who do not commit white collar crimes

The authors of the study also theorized that having a Type A personality may make some offenders more likely to commit white collar crimes.

The term white collar crime evokes images of the rich unfairly taking from others. However, this is only one aspect of a much larger picture. Although this certainly does happen, not all white collar scammers are corrupt CEOs. There are scammers all over the world working to financially devastate people, families, investors, and companies.

White collar crimes can be very serious because some cost people millions or even billions of dollars. These kinds of crimes wipe out retirement accounts, cost people their homes, and can cause companies to fold, which causes job loss. Even if no one was physically harmed, the economic consequences are often serious.

5 Facts About White Collar Crimes

In 1939, criminologist Edwin Sutherland coined the phrase white collar crimes. Since that day, the definition has transformed to mean something more. According to the FBI, white collar crime is usually non-violent and it can include:

  • Money laundering
  • Healthcare fraud
  • Securities fraud
  • Mortgage fraud
  • Public corruption

As these crimes continue to become more sophisticated, the FBI has donated more resources to stopping them before they occur. Keep reading to learn more about white collar crimes and what they truly encompass.

1. White Collar Crimes Encompass a Broad Range of Acts

White collar crimes are not limited to embezzlement or bribery, although these are two examples. Instead, these crimes are best thought of as frauds committed by business and government officials. However, other experts define them as nonviolent crimes that are conducted for financial gain. Thus, a multitude of criminal acts may be considered white collar:

  • Falsification of financial documents
  • Market timing schemes
  • Cybercrime
  • Copyright infringement
  • Identity theft

These offenses have serious repercussions for both the victims and the offenders when they are caught. Unfortunately, too often they evade capture.

2. They Harm the Economy

These crimes leave a profound impression on the economies in which they occur. In the US, it is estimated white collar crime costs the government $300 billion annually.

Behaviors associated with white collar crime also wreak havoc on stocks, as shareholders and entire companies can be sabotaged or weakened.

3. The Prevalence Is Unclear

News coverage of white collar crime leads many to believe these acts are increasing in frequency. However, government reports indicate the opposite is true: white collar crime is decreasing.

Arrests and prosecutions associated with white collar crime convictions continue to decline, hitting a 20-year low in the first seven months of 2018.

Yet this data only considers prosecutions. What of crimes that go unreported? The questions concerning white collar crime’s definition also add to the confusion, as some experts defy the FBI’s current comprehension of the term.

Numerous societal factors, such as an aging population and an increase in internet reliance, suggest white collar crime should be rising. Some victims of white collar crimes may simply be too embarrassed to come forward and report the crime.

4. Criminals May Not Adhere to Stereotypes

Because white collar crime is associated with higher classes, it is understandable most individuals picture offenders to be rich and privileged. Yet the broad definition of white collar crime means perpetrators can be anyone from your neighbor to your boss.

Many individuals commit crimes due to financial factors rather than for malicious reasons. Some studies indicate most embezzlers, for instance, are middle-aged women.  Further, most theft occurs in small companies rather than in large corporations.

5. Cases Are Handled by Many

The FBI is not the only agency investigating crimes like embezzlement and fraud. The Securities and Exchange Commission, the IRS, the National Association of Securities Dealers, state and local officials and others also lend a hand.

The fact that several organizations investigate these crimes begs the question, are white collar crimes handled in federal or state court? Depending on the circumstances surrounding the case, it could end up in either.

Estimates have shown that 3% of all crimes are white collar, with approximately 28% of households and 35% of companies falling victim at some point. If you’ve been charged with a white collar crime, you can follow this link for information about what type of legal advice a criminal defense lawyer can give you.