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 possibly 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:
The types of crime committed are a function of what is available to the potential offender. Thus, those employed in relatively unskilled environments and living in inner-city areas have fewer opportunities to exploit than those who work in situations where large financial transactions occur and live in areas where there is relative prosperity. Blue-collar crime tends to be more obvious and thus attracts more active police attention such as vandalism or shoplifting. In contrast, white-collar employees can incorporate legitimate and criminal behavior, thus making themselves less obvious when committing the crime. Therefore, blue-collar crime will more often use physical force, whereas in the corporate world, the identification of a victim is less obvious and the issue of reporting is complicated by a culture of commercial confidentiality to protect shareholder value. It is estimated that a great deal of white-collar crime is undetected or, if detected, it is not reported.
Corporate crime deals with the company as a whole. The crime benefits the investors or the individuals who are in high positions in the company or corporation. The relationship white-collar crime has with corporate crime is that they are similar because they both are involved within the business world. Their difference is that white-collar crime benefits the individual involved, and corporate crime benefits the company or the corporation.
One well-known insider trading case in the United States is the ImClone stock trading case. In December 2001, top-level executives sold their shares in ImClone Systems, a pharmaceutical company that manufactured an anti-cancer drug. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigated numerous top-level executives, as well as Martha Stewart, a friend of ImClone's former chief executive who had also sold her shares at the same time. The SEC reached a settlement in 2005.
The negotiation of agreements between a state and a corporation will be at a relatively senior level on both sides, this is almost exclusively a white-collar "situation" which offers the opportunity for crime. Although law enforcement claims to have prioritized white-collar crime, evidence shows that it continues to be a low priority.
When senior levels of a corporation engage in criminal activity using the company this is sometimes called control fraud.
Organized transnational crime is organized criminal activity that takes place across national jurisdictions, and with advances in transportation and information technology, law enforcement officials and policymakers have needed to respond to this form of crime on a global scale. Some examples include human trafficking, money laundering, drug smuggling, illegal arms dealing, terrorism, and cybercrime. Although it is impossible to precisely gauge transnational crime, the Millennium Project, an international think tank, assembled statistics on several aspects of transnational crime in 2009:
Individuals may commit crime during employment or unemployment. The two most common forms are theft and fraud. Theft can be of varying degrees, from a pencil to furnishings to a car. Insider trading, the trading of stock by someone with access to publicly unavailable information, is a type of fraud.
In the modern world, there are a lot of nations which divide the crimes into some laws. "Crimes Related to Inducement of Foreign Aggression" is the crime of communicating with aliens secretly to cause foreign aggression or menace. "Crimes Related to Foreign Aggression" is the treason of cooperating with foreign aggression positively regardless of the national inside and outside. "Crimes Related to Insurrection" is the internal treason. Depending on a country, conspiracy is added to these.
In the United States, sentences for white-collar crimes may include a combination of imprisonment, fines, restitution, community service, disgorgement, probation, or other alternative punishment. These punishments grew harsher after the Jeffrey Skilling and Enron scandal, when the Sarbanes–Oxley Act of 2002 was passed by the United States Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush, defining new crimes and increasing the penalties for crimes such as mail and wire fraud. In other countries, such as China, white-collar criminals can be given the death penalty. Certain countries like Canada consider the relationship between the parties to be a significant feature on sentence when there is a breach of trust component involved. Questions about sentencing disparity in white-collar crime continue to be debated. Although, white-collar crime poses a serious threat in today's society, it becomes extremely difficult to identify. The FBI, concerned with identifying this type of offense, collects annual statistical information on only three categories: fraud, counterfeiting/forgery, and embezzlement. All other types of white-collar crime are listed in an, "miscellaneous" category.
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