What Is the Definition of a White Collar Crime?

What Is the Definition of a White Collar Crime?

April 1, 2020

We’ve all heard about white collar crime, but few people are familiar with the exact definition.  Have you ever wondered what “white collar” and corporate crimes mean in Lubbock, TX? It’s more than just professionals who commit crimes—white collar and corporate crime is a specific type of violation that you’ll most often see in corporations.

What constitutes “white collar” crime?

White collar crime was defined by 20th century sociologist Edwin Sutherland as “a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of their occupation.” The FBI defines it further 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.”

In other words, white collar crime is often committed by high-powered executives at their jobs—for example, embezzlement, insider trading, Ponzi schemes and bribery are all examples of white collar crimes. They’re always non-violent and often financial in nature.

In many cases, a person would not have the opportunity to commit these crimes if not for the specific nature of their job. They often bank on the respectability of their position and the access that comes along with it to achieve their objectives and hide evidence. White collar crime isn’t limited to individual perpetrators—organizations can collude to commit these types of crimes, too.

Generally, white collar crimes are investigated by the FBI and the SEC.

What are some famous examples of white collar crime?

What is an example of corporate crime? Well, do you remember Enron? This energy corporation filed for bankruptcy in 2001. Shareholders sued when the price of their stock, which was over $90 at its peak, dropped to under a dollar at the end of 2001. The FBI and SEC investigated and found that the company had hidden billions of dollars in debt through “creative” accounting, among other methods. Many Enron executives were indicted and found guilty of a number of white collar crimes, making it one of the biggest financial scandals in recent American history.

The Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme scandal was another recent and devastating example of white collar crime. Madoff, who had a reputation as a skilled wealth manager, targeted charities and was able to conceal the fact that he hadn’t actually traded stocks since the early 1990s. In addition, Madoff had strong ties to Washington, D.C., and even sat on the board of a securities association, lending him credibility and further opportunity. At the end of the scandal, he was sentenced to 150 years in prison and $170 billion in restitution.

If you’ve been accused of a white collar crime, you need an experienced attorney fast. The Law Office of Rob Biggers is here to help—our team is dedicated to bringing you the best representation possible and will fight hard for a positive outcome. Rob Biggers is licensed to practice in all Texas state courts and the federal district court in the Northern District of Texas. Call us today to schedule a consultation.

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