There are various reasons why people commit white collar crimes, all of which generally involve some type of deception for financial gain. Those reasons can be linked sometimes to behavior that is unofficially permitted by higher-ups in an organization, or problems related to a company’s culture.
The following are all examples of white collar crimes: insider trading, racketeering, forgery, identity theft, fraud, cybercrime and several others. Forbes.com, citing statistics from the FBI, noted that such crimes rack up a yearly cost of half a trillion dollars.
Circumstances that can lead to white collar crimes
An astounding number of people who commit white collar crimes have no prior criminal record. What causes them to suddenly behave so unlawfully? Although the details of each white collar crime differ, there are some basics that seem to apply to many of them:
- Tremendous, perhaps unanticipated, success can persuade people to take chances they might not otherwise take. They may not pause long enough to thoroughly weigh the consequences, both for themselves and for others.
- If bending the law slightly is commonplace within an industry or company, people can unwittingly fall into the trap of assuming it’s acceptable (or even expected).
- Sometimes the atmosphere in certain workplaces does not consistently encourage upholding robust ethical standards at all levels. Employees might be expected to achieve specified aims, and management may make it clear they don’t care how that gets done.
Do these crimes impact other people in negative ways?
The argument is sometimes voiced that these crimes are “victimless.” That is not always true. People’s savings can be drained by Ponzi schemes. Reputations can be clouded. Companies can falter due to front-page controversies. Employees who are blameless can get caught up in the ensuing whirlwind. All of this can happen without someone ever intending it to.
If you are facing a white-collar crime charge, you should be aware of your rights and have your concerns and questions addressed by a knowledgeable source.