White Collar Crimes—Effects, Reasons and Law

Research proposal: I intend to research the implications of white collar crime, the consequences, as well as the circumstances surrounding the issue. As its nature is concealed it will require an in-depth look at the facts and the laws pertaining to white collar crimes and those who are involved in it. Businesses and corporations often govern themselves, so a close analysis of the evidence and criteria is required. The illegal activities carried out by the companies, have a great influence on the society and individuals and the need for monitoring and control is necessary to decrease the occurrence of the criminal activities performed by these corporations. As the actions of white collar criminals are submerged under the obvious, away from public view, this is exactly what makes it even more dangerous and alarming, thus needing direct action from the governmental organizations.

Hypothesis: white collar crime is a growing problem, which is hard to control and regulate because the result is often unnoticed until much time has passed. The damage to the society and the country is great but people are either unaware of its effects or consider it a minor infraction but in reality it is quite the opposite. More strict guidelines and laws must be put in place to prevent repetition and commencement of such crimes.

Key legal issues/methodology: white collar crime is defined as non-violent, corporate, involving fraud, embezzlement, forgery, extortion, concealment, theft and falsification. There are very many qualities of white collar crime but lawfully it focuses on non-violence and deception against the employee, the public, a personal and governmental institutions enforcing business laws. The motive of these crimes is always personal monetary or product gain, with the intent to conceal and falsificate true nature of events (Benson & Simpson 2009, p. 10). The law defines white collar crime as being committed “knowingly and willfully” by persons of upper socioeconomic class, obtaining property with false pretences and claims, bid rigging, price fixing, mail and security fraud, bankruptcy, tax fraud, with a motive to deprive or omit. The same laws as for criminal offences apply, with similar sentences and regulations, often overlapping with organized crime (Scheb 2009, p. 249). The general public is often unaware of these crimes, considering it as unimportant and “not that serious”. But in reality it is much more serious because it takes advantage of a large group of people, causing governmental and economical setbacks. A survey focused on the seriousness of the problem was presented to the employees of several banks. They had to evaluate how serious were the three scenarios. First was theft from a person on the street, second was theft from employer and third was a contractor overcharging a person for unnecessary repairs. The bank workers rated the first case as 51% serious, the second as 36% and the third was 21% (Isenring 2008). This shows how skewed and uneducated people’s opinions are about white collar crime.

White collar crime starts with an individual. Because it is a corporate crime, people are involved with a number of other co-workers who might be participating in the same illegal activity, which makes it easier to conspire and conceal. Differential association theory supposes that an individual, who is not a white collar criminal but is suscepted to the presence and influence of one, will most likely take part in the offence, as the diversion of responsibility is greatly increased (Gottschalk 2010, p. 12). But at the same time it is said that the social factors are not that influential for an individual to involve themselves in this sort of crime. Very often it rests on self-control and repetition of the offence (Champion 2011). For example, a person who has committed white collar crime often avoids punishment and even with the want to stop the reward is too great because of the easy access and concealment factors. White collar crimes are predominantly theft by deception, compared to low economic class crimes, which are more related to anti-social personality disorders and deviation from norm (Naso 2012). Also an individual excuses themselves as not really harming anyone in particular, the corporation is big enough to not notice the decrease in the finances or products. Another story is when a private person is overcharged for a loan or a product. This privilege and access of the white collar criminal makes them as much a danger to society as any other criminal. The fact that business look for people who are educated, clever and imaginative, makes these criminals even more effective, as they can manipulate the system in the most extraordinary ways (Marks 2012).

The crimes that are directed towards an individual are less common because the reward is not that large. But crimes against a corporation, investors and other businesses or even governments, cost the state an enormous sum of money. FBI estimates that in the year 1999, 10% of 1.1 trillion dollars were attributed to fraud and abuse. The losses are in billions of dollars, putting a significant dent in the economy (Gerber & Jensen 2007, p. 1). According to statistics very often white collar criminals are pawnbrokers and loan sharks, who increase interest from 250 to 5000 per cent a year, stockbrokers, who sell stocks by distance and then exchange the purchased stocks for those with lower value, and of course bankers and investors, who “peg prices” and create false organizations to pool funds and investments (Geis 2009, p. 35).

The above analysis proves how white collar crime has become a real problem. Even though there are numerous government organizations that enforce laws and take steps to prevent repetition of such crimes, the rate of these occurrences is still great, being detrimental to the society and the world.


Benson, M & Simpson, S 2009, White collar crime: an opportunity perspective, Taylor & Francis, New York.

Champion, D 2011, ‘White-collar crimes and organizational offending: an integral approach’, International Journal of Business, vol. 1 no. 3, pp. 34-45.

Geis, G 2009, White-collar criminal: the offender in business and the professions, Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick.

Gerber J & Jensen E 2007, Encyclopedia of white-collar crime, Jurg Gerber and Eric L. Lensen, Westport.

Gottschalk, P 2010, White-collar crime: detection, prevention and strategy in business enterprises, Universal-Publishers, Boca Raton

Isenring, G 2008, Perception of seriousness and concern about white-collar crime’, European Journal on Criminal Policy & Research, vol. 14 no. 4, pp. 371-389.

Marks, J 2012, ‘A matter of ethics: understanding the mind of a white-collar criminal’ Financial Executive, vol. 28 no. 9, pp. 31-34.

Naso, R 2012, ‘When money and morality collide: white collar crime and the paradox of integrity’, Psychoanalytic Psychology, vol. 29 no. 2, pp. 241-254

Scheb, J 2009, Criminal Law, Cengage Learning, Belmont.

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