Most experts agree that white-collar crime has a far greater economic impact than ordinary crime. White-collar crime can endanger employees by creating unsafe working conditions, injure consumers by selling dangerous products, and pollute a community. The cost of white-collar crimes to society in general is huge!
White-collar crime involves intentional acts that violate the law for financial gain. These crimes may involve deception, for example, using fake documents to conduct business or stealing money from employers. They may also involve negligence, such as leaving the office with someone else's password or not updating one's resume regularly. No matter how you look at it, white-collar crimes are harmful to society.
Because most people understand that criminal activity is wrong, they struggle to understand why anyone would commit a crime just for fun or as a source of income. The reason that some people choose to break the law is because they believe that they will not get caught. Crime pays only if nobody catches you doing it. If you do get caught, then the punishment for your crime will reflect the seriousness of it. Some white-collar crimes carry heavy penalties because the perpetrator has shown that he or she has no regard for the law.
All types of crime cause harm to others, but which type is more harmful? That depends on how you look at it.
Most academics think that white-collar crime has a significantly greater economic impact than ordinary crime. Sociologists have emphasized that white-collar crimes are especially damaging to society because they are committed by people in positions of power who are expected to set a moral example and act responsibly. These men and women violate this trust and damage their own careers as well as those of others.
Many economists say that the overall effect of white-collar crime on society is negative but not very great because it tends to be contained within the guilty parties' organizations. But some argue that white-collar criminals do harm to society because they drain resources from more important activities (such as police investigations or public service campaigns) and may also undermine confidence in the justice system.
Crime scientists view white-collar crime as a major problem because it undermines public confidence in business, the government, and other institutions that use standards of conduct as a guide for hiring employees or determining how to manage their businesses.
Throughout history, rulers have used their power to engage in criminal activity. White-collar crime is no different - dictators in China, Russia, and elsewhere have embezzled money, ordered murders, and otherwise abused their authority. But because these men hold key positions in their governments, the evil they do affects the whole community rather than just themselves or their families.
Some studies suggest that white-collar crime accounts for a large proportion of all crime.
White-collar crime is also frequently more difficult to uncover than other forms of crime, partly because losses may not be immediately obvious to victims, but also because the crimes may entail sophisticated plans and cover-ups.
The nature of many white-collar offenses means that they do not result in physical damage or loss of property, so traditional crime statistics don't always apply. For example, false statements on a tax return are considered an offense against the government, even though no money changed hands. The same is true for violations such as plagiarizing another's work or filing false documents with the government.
Because most white-collar crimes do not involve violence and because many victims do not report the crimes, police departments tend to view these incidents as low priority. This often leads to underreporting of the incidents. For example, one study found that between 3% and 6% of all robberies were reported to police officials. That means that out of every 100 robberies that happen within the city limits, three to six would have to be reported to authorities.
Another factor that makes measuring white-collar crimes difficult is the lack of conviction rates. For example, one study found that out of every 100 bank robberies that occur within the United States, only four lead to an arrest and conviction.
White-collar crimes sometimes go unnoticed because it is not obvious to the audience that a criminal was committed. White-collar crimes victimize a large number of people at the same time and create considerable financial damage. White-collar crimes can be extremely damaging to both individuals and organizations. Organized crime groups use white-collar crimes as a way to make money without being detected by law enforcement.
Another reason why white-collar crimes go unnoticed is because criminals are very careful not to leave any evidence pointing toward their activities. For example, when someone steals from a company, there is no physical proof that a crime has been committed - unless the thief is caught red-handed. White-collar crimes include things like embezzlement, fraud, forgery, theft of trade secrets, and violations of privacy laws. Because there is no physical evidence, bosses may believe that employees are just taking home more money than they deserve or that they are just being greedy.
Yet another reason why white-collar crimes go unnoticed is because most of the time, the person committing the crime doesn't want them to be discovered. This is especially true if they are working with others, either inside an organization or outside of it. For example, an employee might steal from their employer because they feel like they aren't being given a fair chance or because they are unhappy with their job.