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White Collar Crime Definitions


White Collar Crime DefinitionsIn 1940, University of Chicago criminologist, Edwin Sutherland, published a paper in the American Sociological Review presenting a controversial idea that he labeled "white collar crime."

His theory brought attention to corporate deviance and upper-world criminality. Sutherland studied seventy large corporations and found 980 decisions levied against corporate America violating existing law.


He defined this form of criminal behavior as "crime committed by a person of respectability and high status in the course of his occupation; a criminal with high socioeconomic status who violates the laws designed to regulate his occupational activities."

In a recent interview, Frank Abagnale of "Catch me if you can", pointed out quite correctly that it is incredible that no one is getting upset about the staggering amount of money, estimated at $600 billion, being thrown away each year as a result of white collar crime.

That makes Bush's $200 billion to finish Bush senior's war look like small potatoes.

Admittedly some of the $600 billion eventually filters back into the economy via the black market. But some of it, too much, filters up and out of the food chain into white collar tax havens and cash mountains.

A huge amount can be attributed to large scale corporate fraud. We've all seen the tips of the white collar crime icebergs in the last couple of years - icebergs called Enron, Global Crossing, and Tyco to name a few. However, by all accounts the vast majority of white collar crime remains beneath the surface, either undiscovered, unreported, or unprosecuted.


By all accounts white collar crime pays if you can get away with it. According to Abagnale and Leaf if you do the white collar crime, the odds of being investigated, prosecuted or incarcerated are much lower than virtually any other crime.


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