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What triggers the commission of white-collar crimes?

On Behalf of | Aug 23, 2022 | White Collar Crime

While many who commit white-collar crimes get away with their unethical deeds, countless others find themselves on the wrong side of the law. Once-promising reputations can be in tatters when alleged perpetrators face criminal charges.

White-collar crimes can take the form of:

  • Bribery
  • Money laundering
  • Identity theft
  • Forgery
  • Ponzi schemes
  • Embezzlement
  • Insider trading
  • Cybercrimes
  • Racketeering
  • Intellectual property infringement

The FBI notes that white-collar crime costs more than $500 billion annually. This begs a question: why do rational, successful white-collar workers put their livelihoods at risk?

Professional and legal consequences

Here are some possible explanations for why people commit white-collar crime.

Management is nonchalant about ethics. Subtle cues can make an employee feel unethical behavior is harmless. For example, Wall Street traders may view insider trading as a victimless crime, when the opposite is true. Co-workers or bosses might claim that questionable moves are “one-time events” that do not cause long-term harm.

Highly aggressive goals can create a “win-at-all-cost” environment when guidelines are ambiguous or confusing. Achieving objectives often means job security. Falling short can lead to demotion or job loss. This dynamic has played out in countless scandals, including ones at Wells Fargo, Volkswagen, Theranos and Uber.

Excessive risk: while employers in certain industries herald employees who take risks, excessive risk can result in the crossing of ethical or legal lines. While many alleged perpetrators may find themselves unemployed, others could face criminal charges.

Do you have questions?

If you believe you are under suspicion for a white-collar crime, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.

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