What does White Collar Crime Mean?

These crimes can be committed against another person or a legal entity such as a business or company. Enrichment does not always have to be financial or monetary in nature and can include other types of advantages that can place a person or business in a position to gain financially or in other ways at a future date.

The term “white collar” is used loosely to refer to persons who are employed in an office environment rather than those who are employed as manual laborers. Traditionally, the term was established to distinguish between the more affluent who worked in higher-paying jobs and wore white collared shirts as opposed to the blue clothing worn by laborers or other types of low-income earners.

The term was therefore ascribed to more affluent persons and the crimes that could be committed by them due to their status or position of employment. Today, the term is no longer applicable in the traditional sense of the word and so-called white-collar crimes can be committed by just about any person. In fact, the significant advances in technology over the last few decades have seen the need to expand on the definition of what constitutes a white-collar crime with many new types of crimes being included in the category.

Typical white-collar crimes include:

1. Fraud

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Fraud is possibly one of the most common white-collar crime and basically means the misrepresentation of a person, company, finances or other information in order to gain financially or avoid a financial loss. Most typically, falsification of information or records is committed to fool government or tax agencies in order to avoid paying required dues. Fraud can also be committed against investors or shareholders of a company by one or more employees of said company for financial enrichment or advantage. Insider trading, securities fraud, and forgery are also types of fraud.

2. Bribery

Either accepting a bribe or bribing another person in order to gain an advantage is a crime. Bribes can be of a financial nature or include assets, property or incentives. Bribes can be made to government officials, employees of the same or different company or to any other person who can influence financial gain.

3. Blackmail

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Blackmail for the purposes of financial or other gain is another form of white-collar crime. This has become especially significant in the digital age. Using any information against another person or entity for gain is considered to be blackmail.

4. Money Laundering

Money laundering is the process of clearing money that has been gained through criminal activities through a legal business or entity in order to make it appear to be income from a legal source. The process is often referred to as fixing or doctoring the books of a business and involves the misrepresentation or falsification of information.

5. Embezzlement

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Embezzlement is the theft or the misappropriation of funds that have been placed in the trust of an employee. The conversion or sale of an asset belonging to a business is also considered to be embezzlement. The use of company assets or finances for financial gain or for personal use is other types of embezzlement.

6. Investment Fraud

Investment fraud is one of the most notorious crimes that have been committed over the past few decades. It involves the investment of another person or company’s funds with the promise of high returns that are impossible to achieve. In most cases, the return on investment is never paid to the investor. Ponzi and pyramid schemes are two typical forms of this type of white-collar crime.

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