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Crime and Money: Motivation and Opportunity in a Monetarized Economy

NCJ Number
American Behavioral Scientist Volume: 35 Issue: 6 Dated: (July 1992) Pages: 827-836
J W Coleman
Date Published
10 pages
This analysis of the relationship between money and crime notes several ways in which the use of money encourages particular types of criminal behavior and concludes that although advances in computer technology could make it easier to detect criminality, maintaining individual freedom and privacy is essential.
All crime causation theories agree that both the opportunity and motivation must exist for a crime to occur. The desire for money is clearly the basic motivation for white-collar crime. In addition, anthropological research reveals that money has a major role in the ritual systems of many cultures, and psychologists have found that money also has great emotional significance. Furthermore, a heavily monetarized economy has many more criminal opportunities than other societies, and the use of money reduces the risk of punishment. The use of checks, credit cards, and electronic funds transfers is making the circulation of money far less anonymous than in the past. Some have proposed eliminating cash to make the detection of crimes easier. However, such measures might make modern industrial nations into totalitarian countries. Therefore, criminal laws should be changed to make the unauthorized transmission of confidential personal information a serious offense. Although an anonymous and interchangeable currency can facilitate criminal behavior, it is essential to individual freedom and privacy. 21 references