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White Collar Crimes

"My father used to always say to me that, you know, if a guy goes out to steal a loaf of bread to feed his family, they'll give him 10 years, but a guy can do white-collar crime and steal the money of thousands and he'll get probation and a slap on the wrist" - Jesse Venture.

It was in the late 1930s that Edwin H. Sutherland took upon the responsibility of transforming the criminological theory. During that time all the discussions regarding crime revolved around the poor. It was during that time that he coined the term white-collar crime.

He defined white-collar crime as a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation (Sutherland 1949, 1) The Oxford English Dictionary defines the white-collar criminals as a person who takes advantage of the special knowledge or responsibility of his position to commit non-violent, often financial, crimes.

They are often associated with business rather than individual. The most common white-collar crimes prevalent in today's time are espionage, embezzlement, antitrust violations, bankruptcy fraud, money laundering etc. These are non-violent crimes but are a huge threat to the society. Although a victim less crime, white-collar crimes are widely acknowledged to cause financial, physical, and social harms. There are no exact statistics that can provide the detail as to how much losses are suffered due to white collar crime but it's definitely way more than street crime.

Types of White-Collar Crimes

There are two ways to approach the concept of white-collar crime. They are offender based and offense-based. (Wen 2013) The former is defined as a type of crime which committed by a person of respectability and high social status. Offender based definition focuses more on the characteristics of the actor rather than the characteristics of the crime. The definition of offense-based crimes was given by Herbert Edelhertz in the early 1970s He defined white-collar crime as an illegal act or series of illegal acts committed by non-physical means and by concealment or guile to obtain business or to obtain personal advantage (Edelhertz, 1970).

Bank fraud:

Bank fraud arises when someone uses illegal activities to obtain money from a bank or other financial institution. It is different from bank robbery. In bank fraud, the fraud is kept a secret in the hope that nobody ever finds out. Bank fraud can be done through bank impersonation, stolen checks, forgery, fraudulent loans, internet fraud, etc.

Black mail:

Black mail is a type of fraud in which the other person is threatened to gain something of value. This gain doesn't necessarily mean something of monetary value but can also be sexual favours. The threat can be of revealing embarrassing pictures of someone or damaging information about some person. It is not a crime to reveal the information but using the information to gain something.

Bribery:

Bribery is to try to make someone do something for you by giving them money, presents, or something else that they want. Acceptance bribe is not necessary for the offence of bribe to be committed. (Dictionary 2017)

Computer Fraud:

Computer frauds are those types of fraud which include stealing money from any person through hacking.

Embezzlement:

When one person is entrusted with someone else's funds and he misappropriates them. It is termed as embezzlement.

Extortion:

Extortion is when somebody obtains something from someone, generally money, through threatened or actual force, it is termed as extortion.

Money Laundering:

When one hides the original source from where money was obtained, it is then called money laundering.

Tax Fraud:

It is escaping from paying the taxes by showing false information to the concerned authority

Causes
These crimes are committed because the offender often makes himself believe that white collar crimes are not really crimes. However, it is certainly not true. White collar crimes are always thought of as financial crime but certain types of white-collar crimes have physical effects also. These may include violation consumer laws, workplace safety laws, and environmental laws which affects the society in general.

Some companies indulge in white collar crimes as they think that government makes regulations on moral grounds and doesn't know the actual practicalities of the corporate world. Another reason which contributes to increase in white-collar crimes is lack of awareness amongst the victims. People don't possess much information regarding these crimes as the nature of these crimes is different from the traditional ones.

Greed is one of the driving factors for these crimes. They tend to think that everybody is already violating laws and it will be fine even if they do it. They compete with their rivals, peers in terms of money and power and when the legitimate source of income doesn't help them in winning the competition amongst them, they resort to white-collar crimes. Some people do it out of greed, while some do it of out need. They sometimes take heavy loans which their lawful income cannot compensate for.

So, their way out becomes white-collar crimes. Some the major examples of the white-collar crime are the Enron case, Bernard Mardoff case, wells Fargo case, etc. Even India is not far behind in producing white collar criminals. Ramlingam raju is an example of it. Ramlingam Raju , former chairman of outsourcing giant Satyam. He was sentenced for 7 years and was also fined Rs.5.5 crores over a $2.25 Billion accounting fraud scandal and is dubbed as ‘India's Eron'.

Conclusion
Every innovation or invention brings with them, both, the good and bad. The modern technology and advancement have been immensely beneficial for the human kind but it has its adverse effects. Many of the white-collar crimes are possible because of the advancement in the technological world. We need to take measures to stop this destructive activity. People who commit these crimes often get lesser punishments as they are not directly affecting someone's life. But what many people don't realise is that they are affecting the society at large.

References:
  1. Wen, Shuangde. 2013. "The Achilles Heel That Hobbles the Asian Giant: The Legal and Cultural Impediments to Antibribery Initiatives in China". American Business Law Journal: 3. LexisNexis. https://www.lexisnexis.com/lnacui2api/frame.do?tokenKey=rsh-20.662423.384786348&target=results_DocumentContent&returnToKey=20_T26717022885&parent=docview&rand=1509459215907&reloadEntirePage=true#n26#n26.
  2. Sutherland, Edwin. 1949. white-collar crime. 1st arg. New York: Dryden Press.
  3. Edelhertz, Herbert. 1970. The nature, impact, and prosecution of white-collar crime. Washington D.C: National Institute of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice.
  4. Edelhertz, Herbert. 1970. The nature, impact, and prosecution of white-collar crime. Washington D.C: National Institute of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice.

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