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White Collar Crime

White-collar crime refers to financially motivated nonviolent crime committed by business and government professionals. Within criminology, it was first defined by sociologist Edwin Sutherland in 1939 as "a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation". Typical white-collar crimes could include fraud, bribery, Ponzi schemes, insider trading, labor racketeering, embezzlement, cybercrime, copyright infringement, money laundering, identity theft, and forgery.

Modern criminology generally rejects a limitation of the term by reference, rather classifies the type of crime and the topic:

• By the type of offense, e.g., property crime, economic crime, and other corporate crimes like environmental and health and safety law violations. Some crime is only possible because of the identity of the offender, e.g., transnational money laundering requires the participation of senior officers employed in banks. But the FBI has adopted the narrow approach, defining white-collar crime as "those illegal acts which are characterized by deceit, concealment, or violation of trust and which are not dependent upon the application or threat of physical force or violence" (1989, 3). While the true extent and cost of white-collar crime are unknown, the FBI and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners estimate the annual cost to the United States to fall between $300 and $660 billion.
• By the type of offender, e.g., by social class or high socioeconomic status, the occupation of positions of trust or profession, or academic qualification, researching the motivations for criminal behavior, e.g., greed or fear of loss of face if economic difficulties become obvious. Shover and Wright (2000) point to the essential neutrality of a crime as enacted in a statute. It almost inevitably describes conduct in the abstract, not by reference to the character of the persons performing it. Thus, the only way that one crime differs from another is in the backgrounds and characteristics of its perpetrators.
• By organizational culture rather than the offender or offense which overlaps with organized crime. Appelbaum and Chambliss offer a twofold definition:
• Occupational crime which occurs when crimes are committed to promote personal interests, say, by altering records and overcharging, or by the cheating of clients by professionals. • Organizational or corporate crime which occurs when corporate executives commit criminal acts to benefit their company by overcharging or price fixing, false advertising, etc.

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