White Collar Crimes

The term “white-collar crime” is not a distinct offense found in state or federal law. Rather “white collar crime” refers to a broad classification of offenses first defined in 1939 by sociologist Edwin Sutherland to as a “crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation.”

As a class of crime, white-collar crimes are nonviolent offenses whose motivation is financial or personal gain. The National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS), a system responsible for collecting crime data identifies the following as examples of white-collar crime:

  • Academic crime
  • Adulterated food, drugs, or cosmetics
  • Anti-trust violations
  • ATM fraud
  • Bad checks
  • Bribery
  • Check kiting
  • Combinations in restraint in trade
  • Computer crime
  • Confidence game
  • Contract fraud
  • Corrupt conduct by juror
  • Counterfeiting
  • Defense contract fraud
  • Ecology law violations
  • Election law violations
  • Embezzlement
  • Employment agency and education-related scams
  • Environmental law violations
  • False advertising and misrepresentation of products
  • False and fraudulent actions on loans, debs, and credits
  • False pretenses
  • False report/statement
  • Forgery
  • Fraudulent checks
  • Health and safety laws
  • Health care providers fraud
  • Home improvement frauds
  • Impersonation
  • Influence peddling
  • Insider trading
  • Insufficient funds checks
  • Insurance Fraud
  • Investment scams
  • Jury tampering
  • Kickback
  • Land sale frauds
  • Mail fraud
  • Managerial fraud
  • Misappropriation
  • Monopoly in restraint in trade
  • Ponzi schemes
  • Procurement fraud
  • Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO)
  • Religious fraud
  • Sports bribery
  • Strategic bankruptcy
  • Subornation of perjury
  • Swindle
  • Tax law violations
  • Telemarketing or boiler room scams
  • Telephone fraud
  • Travel scams
  • Unauthorized use of a motor vehicle
  • Uttering
  • Uttering bad checks
  • Welfare fraud
  • Wire fraud

When compared to other offenses, white-collar crimes often involve more complicated investigations. These investigations require the analysis of financial accounts, electronic records and often involve multiple parties across multiple jurisdictions. Based on their complexity these cases are more difficult to prosecute. However, white-collar crime’s complexity does not deter prosecution at the Federal and Sate level. For example, Department of Justice Data indicate that, in January 2014, there were 561 prosecutions for white-collar crimes in Federal District Courts. Under the New York Penal law and the Federal Criminal Code white-collar crimes are often punished equally if not more severely than street crime, especially when the alleged victims of the crimes are numerous and involve substantial amounts of money.

For more information, view our white collar crimes page.

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