According to Webster’s Dictionary (1996) the definition of white collar is of or relating to workers whose occupations usually does not involve manual labor. White collar crime is usually defined as any illegal offense that is committed in business or professional setting with the goal of achieving personal financial gain (whitecollarcrimefyi.com).
The origin of the term white collar is traced back to 1939, to Professor Edwin Sutherland, of Indiana University, Pontell, Rosoff & Tillman (2002). Sutherland defined white collar crimes as “crimes committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation (Pontell et al., 2002).
White collar crimes are not violent, but have the potential to bring about tremendous economic loss for companies, investors, and others affected by the offender’s actions (whitecollarcrimefyi.com). Sutherland concluded that “the financial cost of white collar crime is probably several times as great as the cost of all the crimes customarily regarded as the ‘crime problem (Pontell et al., 2002).
There are many sociological and economic factors that contribute to white collar crime. Accumulation of wealth, competition, desire for upward mobility and pursuit of self-interest are a few of the sociological factors. Economic factors such as poor economy and loss of income also contribute to white collar crime as well as crime in general.
Because of the great desire for the accumulation of wealth, the Ponzi scheme is one of the oldest white collar crimes committed, and still very effective! The Ponzi Scheme is named after con artist Charles Ponzi, a turn-of-the-century immigrant and former fruit peddler (Pontell et al., 2002). Ponzi schemes are basically pyramid scams where the person at the top profits from enlarging his base or recruiting others into the scam. In 1920, Ponzi was arrested, convicted of fraud, sentenced to 4 years in federal prison, and later deported. He died a pauper in...
Bibliography: Pontell, H. N., Rosoff, S. M., & Tillman R. H., (2002), Profit without honor: White collar
crime and the looting of America (2nd Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
(1996). Riverside Webster’s II Dictionary New York: Berkley.
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