University of Cambridge

White collar crimes:

White collar crimes:

Introduction:

Sutherland Edwin states that white collar crimes can be defined as those crimes that are committed by people of high status quo in the course of their occupation; these crimes include such acts as bribes, frauds, embezzlement of funds, forgery and insider trade.

There exist many forms of white crime crimes which will be discussed in this paper, this include bank frauds, bribery, measure and weight crimes, extortion, black mail, counterfeit, computer frauds and insider trading, all these are termed as white collar crimes and this paper will analyze how these types of crimes occur in our community today.

This paper also analyses the various theory that tend to explain the occurrence of white collar crimes, one of the theory is by Sutherland Edwin named differential theory, this theory states that an individual will commit a crime due to the influence that result from interaction, and that the crimes committed according to this theory are an expression of the individuals needs and values.

The other theory that explains the occurrence of crime is the strain theory by Robert Merton, this theory states that the society today has developed a culture of dreams of being prosperous and having opportunity, and due to the fact that the society’s structure is characterized by inequality and not all individuals have the opportunity to realize their dreams, people opt to involve themselves in white collar crimes in order to realize their dreams.

Finally we will discuss the control theory by Travis Hirsch, this theory does not look at why people commit crimes but rather what makes people not to commit crimes in the society, Travis identified four characteristics that will restrain an individual from committing a crime and they include attachment to others, the believe in the moral validity of rules and law in the society, the commitment to achievement of goals and objectives and finally the individuals involvement in convectional activity.

Forms of white collar crimes:

Below are the forms of white crimes in which they include bank frauds, blackmail,

Bank Fraud

This involves a person action in which he or she is involved in the activities whose purpose is to defraud any bank of its funds.

Black mail:

This involves a person demanding money from another person using threats such as injury of property or accusation of a crime or even the exposure of a secret.

Bribery:

This is another form of white crime which involves a person giving something of value to another person with the intent of influencing their actions or persuading them to undertake certain favors.

Computer frauds:

This crime involves a person stealing information that is contained in a computer and this mostly involves information from banks and credit card information.

Counterfeiting:

Counterfeiting is also a form of a white collar crime, it involves the copying or imitating another person’s item without the authority from the owners of the original item or copy, this happens mostly in the clothing industry and electronics.

Embezz1ement:

This involves the action of a person who has been trusted with the money of an organization and he or she decides to use the money for his or her own benefit and use.

Extortion:

Extortion is also another form of white crime in which it involves the obtaining property illegally from another person through threats or by force.

Forgery:

This is another type of crime in which a person will use instruments such a counterfeit checks and securities in the attempt to defraud the recipient.

Insider Trading:

This type of white collar crime involves the use of confidential information for own benefits; most of these crimes involve the issues of shares in public corporations.

Money Laundering:

Money laundry is also another form of white crime, money laundry involves the transfer of money from such sources as drug transactions so that the money appears to be legitimate and the source of funds cannot be traced.

Tax Evasion:

This is also another common form of white crime in which a person will fail to pay taxes or commits a fraud in order to pay less than required in form of tax.

Weights and Measures crime:

This is a white crime which involves placing items in the market at the same price with other despite having a lower measure in terms of weight and at the same time labeling them as having the same weight as the other items.

Theories of white collar crimes:

Differential association theory:

This theory was by Edward Sutherland, it states that individuals learn the attitudes, values and techniques and also the motives for criminal behavior through their interaction with other individuals in the society.

Individuals in the society will interact with other individuals and this is where they learn the motives and attitude towards crime, the individuals are inspired by the cultural transmission that occur in the society, Sutherland also stated that the self image of a person is continuously being constructed when a person interact with the people in the society.

This theory states that people will define their lives with reference to their experience and their experience will determine their future actions, this is why people will behave differently to the same situation. This theory also states that individuals will choose to commit a crime when the balance when law breaking definitions exceeds the law abiding definitions, however the individuals deeds both criminal and non criminal deeds are motivated by the needs for social gain and money.

This theory states that as people that are high in status quo interact, then the individuals are likely to follow their footsteps, therefore individuals will commit white collar crimes due to interaction with other individuals and due to the need for social gain and money.

This theory can be summarized by the following points:

  • We learn criminal behavior
  • The criminal behavior is learnt when we interact with other people in the society
  • The criminal behavior is learnt especially when an individual interact with intimate personal groups
  • Learning of criminal behavior involves learning the techniques of committing these crimes, the motives are learnt and also the rationale
  • The direction of these motives and drives are learnt from legal code definitions and the individual will analyze whether they are favorable or unfavorable
  • The extent of influence will differ in terms of duration, priority and intensity
  • The criminal acts are an expression of the individual’s needs and values

The strain theory:

The strain theory was developed by Robert Merton, this theory states that people have a certain culture which involves the saturation of dreams of freedom, prosperity and opportunity, as Merton states people buy into this dreams of prosperity, freedom and opportunity and they become a very strong and powerful psychological and cultural motivation to commit crimes

Merton stated in this theory that the social structure in the society is characterized by inequality and it prevents most individuals from realizing their dreams, due to this people will turn to illegal means of achieving their dreams of prosperity.

Therefore this theory bases its idea of the occurrence of white collar crimes with the personal dreams that have become a culture of the individuals today, individuals will strive to realize these dreams but because the society is characterized with inequality which do not allow all in the society to realize their dreams, individuals will tend to commit white collar crimes to reward themselves and fulfill their dreams.

The Control theories:

This theory was developed by Travis Hirsch, this theory does not look at why people commit crimes but rather what makes people not to commit crimes in the society, Travis identified four characteristics that will restrain an individual from committing a crime and they include attachment to others, the believe in the moral validity of rules and law in the society, the commitment to achievement of goals and objectives and finally the individuals involvement in convectional activity.

All this four factors will contribute to the development of the individuals self control, the absence of the above four factors of self control development in an individuals life will contribute to the occurrence of crime, therefore if an individuals does not have the above four factors then he or she will be more likely to commit a crime.

Difficulties in prosecuting white collar crimes:

Social status:

White collar crimes are committed by people with high status quo in the society, the problem is that it is difficult to prosecute as stated by Karl Marx in his theory on capitalism, capitalist are the owners of the means of production and therefore it will be difficult for the proletariats to prosecute them due to lack of status and prestige in the society, therefore when a person of high status quo commits a crime he or she has both social, political and economic power to withdraw such charges. They also have the funds to hire professional lawyers who help them win their way out of sanction.

Complexity:

In the case of frauds the individuals learn the techniques of defrauding and embezzling funds and in this techniques they learn how to cover up for their actions, therefore it will be very difficult to prosecute them in court, an example is money laundry where individuals cover up their illegal trades on drugs and transfer the money as acquired through legal means.

Lack of proper constitutional framework:

Our societies lack proper constitutional framework that aid in the prosecution of law offenders, such as clauses and penal codes that that govern such behavior, lack of empowered judicial system which aid in detecting the occurrence of such crimes. All these problems contribute to the problem of proper prosecution of white collar crime offenders.

Corruption:

Due to the existence of this vise in our society, it has been difficult to bring justice to white collar crime offenders, corruption has made it possible for offenders to bribe their way out incase a tribunal finds an individual guilty, the judicial system in most of our societies are corrupt and this has led to the problem of prosecuting those who have high status quo in our society.

Chain linking:

The other problem is the strong ties that exist in the relationship of those that facilitate the occurrence of such crimes, these individuals commit crimes professionally as a group, this group has a chain link where the individuals advocate the methodology of committing the crime, the group is of high social status who have knowledge, techniques and tactics to undertake such crimes, besides that they employ strategic means of acquiring funds and opportunity, this makes it difficult and hard to trace the suspect and prosecute.

Conclusion:

There exist many forms of white collar crimes which include bank frauds, bribery, measure and weight crimes, extortion, black mail, counterfeit, computer frauds and insider trading, the white collar crimes were defined by Sutherland Edwin as those crimes that are committed by people of high status quo in the course of their occupation

The differential association theory by Sutherland Edwin explain why white collar crimes occur, this theory states that an individual will commit a crime due to the influence that result from interaction, and that the crimes committed according to this theory are an expression of the individuals needs and values.

The strain theory by Robert Merton also explains the occurrence of white collar crimes, this theory states that the society today has developed a culture of dreams of being prosperous and having opportunity, and due to the fact that the society’s structure is characterized by inequality and not all individuals have the opportunity to realize their dreams, people opt to involve themselves in white collar crimes in order to realize their dreams.

The control theory was developed by Travis Hirsch, Travis identified four characteristics that will restrain an individual from committing a crime and they include attachment to others, the believe in the moral validity of rules and law in the society, the commitment to achievement of goals and objectives and finally the individuals involvement in convectional activity. All this four factors will contribute to the development of the individuals self control, the absence of the above four factors of self control development in an individuals life will contribute to the occurrence of crime, therefore if an individuals does not have the above four factors then he or she will be more likely to commit a crime.

Reference:

Associated contents (2007) Theories of crime, retrieved on 28th August

Kari sable (2007) white collar crimes, retrieved on 28th August

Wikipedia (2007) white collar crime, retrieved on 28th August

J. Warring and David Weisburd (2001) White Collar Crime and Criminal Careers, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

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