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White-Collar Crime (From Different Crimes Different Criminals: Understanding, Treating and Preventing Criminal Behavior, P 285-310, 2006, Doris Layton MacKenzie, Lauren O’Neill, et al. eds. -- See NCJ-217024)

NCJ Number
Natalie Schell
Date Published
26 pages
This chapter discusses white collar crime.
There is a debate regarding the appropriate definition of white collar crime, with one side arguing that the definition should be offender-based and the other side arguing that the definition should be offense-based. Offense-based definitions, which are used in this chapter, define white collar crime as “economic offenses committed through the use of some combination of fraud, deception, or collusion.” There are three categories that incorporate most white collar crimes: (1) occupational crime; (2) corporate crime; and (3) job-less white-collar crime. The prevalence of white collar crime in the United States and its impact on society are reviewed, which include a range of monetary costs and psychological trauma. Offender characteristics for white collar criminals vary significantly due to the wide variety of possible economic offenses. However, research indicates that the majority of white collar offenders are employed at the time of their offense and that there are more White offenders found in this group than in typical samples of street criminals. The motives of white collar offenders are considered followed by a review of the theoretical perspectives that attempt to explain white collar offending. Sutherland’s Differential Association theory, which contends criminal behavior is learned in interaction with intimate personal groups, is widely used to explain white collar offending, as are Rational Choice and Revised Rational Choice Theory, Routine Activities Theory, and Organizational Theory. Enforcement responses for white collar crime include criminal prosecution, civil prosecution, and prosecution by regulatory agencies such as the Securities Exchange Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency. When prosecuted criminally, punishments for white collar offenders tend to be much more lenient than punishments for street offenders. Prevention techniques for white collar crime tend to focus on the reduction of opportunity and the enhancement of business ethics in employees. Notes, references