Some people view white-collar crimes as victimless. In truth, they are anything but. Understanding exactly what a white-collar crime is is important before discussing its implications.
A white-collar crime is usually a non-violent crime that involves fraud. These crimes can destroy as many, if not more, lives as violent crimes.
Types of white-collar crimes
There are several main types of white-collar crimes. These are:
- Healthcare fraud – seeking to receive benefits or medications under false pretenses
- Money laundering – taking illegal money and processing it through legitimate businesses
- Securities fraud – insider trading and Ponzi schemes
- Intellectual theft – theft of intangible ideas and property such as art and music
- Larceny – stealing property
- Tax evasion – failure to pay taxes
Cyber fraud is also a white-collar crime but can be part of any white-collar crime.
Penalties for white-collar crimes
The penalties for committing a white-collar crime are usually steep. Like most crimes, you can go to prison, pay a large fine, forfeiture of assets and restitution for victims. The courts base these penalties on the severity of the crime, the extent of the fraud and the harm inflicted.
Consequences of white-collar crimes
Although these crimes are non-violent, the victims still face severe losses. This can include the loss of a company or business, loss of retirement funds, significant loss of savings, loss of confidence in institutions and increases in consumer cost.
More than 300 billion dollars are lost each year due to white-collar crimes. Although many do not involve violence, they certainly involve victims from all walks of life.