White collar crime is any crime committed by a person in the course of their occupation. Most types of white-collar crime tend to involve deceit, a violation of trust, and concealment. Furthermore, these crimes usually do not involve physical force or violence, and the motivation behind most of these corporate crimes is purely financial gain and power. Some popular methods to commit these crimes are:
- Embezzlement: misappropriation of funds one was entrusted with
- Fraud: deception for monetary gain
- Forgery: altering or producing false legal documents and signatures to assist in fraudulent activity
Within the past few years, terrorism threats have increased, which caused the government to reduce the funding for the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which investigates and charges white-collar crime instances. With the enforcement decreased, there has been a 35% decrease in unsafe products. However, this is due to a lack of government funding rather than less crime.
Why is it a Problem?
Crime on the streets are very common and highly covered by the media, but our attitude toward white-collar crime is a bit different. White-collar crime is known as the grey-area of crime because these violations often go unnoticed by the victims and law enforcement. It is also harder to deduce who is involved because one doesn’t have to see or touch an individual to be able to victimize them. However, they are not victimless crimes. A single scam can destroy companies, cost investors billions of dollars, and wipe out millions of people’s life savings. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimated that white-collar crimes cost the country ten times more than street crimes. Furthermore, unlike street crime, white-collar criminals are usually not punished. Many of these criminals serve little to no jail time and have to pay fines that are minor in comparison to the money they gained via stock awards.
Examples of White-Collar Crime
Enron is an energy company that destroyed over 6,000 jobs and retirement plans by ‘cooking the books.’ Cooking the books refers to when one intentionally overestimates their company’s market value to make their stock more valuable. This deceives people into thinking the company is more profitable, so they are more likely to purchase stock. Enron reported their market value to be $68 billion more than what it was. In a few weeks, they caused catastrophic financial damage, and the Enron Executives pleaded guilty and served 7-8 years in prison.
Flint, Michigan Water Crisis
To cut the cost of freshwater, the City decided to build a new pipeline to deliver water from Lake Huron to Flint. However, while it was under construction, the city’s water supply was coming from the Flint River. Furthermore, the state was not treating the water with anti-corrosive agents, which is a violation of federal law. As the water began to move through the lead pipes, lead began leaching into the water supply. Lead consumption can have disastrous consequences on one’s heart, nerves, and kidneys. It can also lead to impaired cognition, development disorders, hearing problems, and behavioral disorders in children. Michigan paid an $87 million to Flint so they replace the unsafe water lines by 2020.
NFL Concussion Crisis
The National Football League (NFL) came under attack when thousands of scientists and former football players claimed that the multibillion-dollar organization covered up evidence that playing football could inflict long-term brain injuries called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). In total, more than 4,200 former players filed lawsuits claiming they suffered from brain damage due to playing football. The NFL admitted no guilt, but they paid 765 million to settle any concussion-related suits. They also invested in you helmets to protect players in the future.
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Resources: https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2016/medical-errors-leading-cause-of-death-cs.html, https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/white-collar-crimehttps://www.cnn.com/2016/03/04/us/flint-water-crisis-fast-facts/index.html, https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/2013/10/07/frontline-documentary-nfl-concussions/2939747/, https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/sports/league-of-denial/timeline-the-nfls-concussion-crisis/
Pictures: Featured Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/144281489@N03/29988656516/in/photolist-MFZGN1-RRAZrA-dT8AuA-28urV-8ZUJc7-SYqa87-6WqLfi-894vYo-tEsAP-Fx2Us2-reb2EW-GHKZrn-dSQJFk-d8hquo-RknymL-TCAWvC-BfGLaS-ACXK69-AMDiU1-84uCV6-26MdYKg-ACXfM4-ACXMZq-ACX2br-AMDmK1-AFgB5T-ACXM1S-BfGMah-AMDoDw-YGaofk-Ytz9QR-Y5ZRz5-Xsbdie-XsboWt-XsbhrK-YqWSAm-YqWMqS-f491Gv-bVLTec-N6FjoT-M92F7R-N6Fkkx-MDrt9Y-N1BNBW-MTrG81-MTrDtd-N1vMT3-fhQUyc-T9B1x1-5z8bq, https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevesorensenembezzlement/34144426860/in/photolist-U2e7wQ-c4z5SW-Us8hkb-dg9gbr-24G1j8Y-Ja1E1M-29niyYt-eLgWg7-amtiBQ-aRb8Un-7K3RRn-5RvhEo-FqpGk5-niR6X6-FChUoz-THRowr-N6WrEq-nRMf73-awqqPi-Wy61JG-pb1ZWK-24N2jTf-pPi2gq-4CptHU-GaBXMK-5bCzyV-7JKBxb-7exH7K-24N2koU-214DTxh-XUhqr1-X4Ma7w-24N2kVW-dvj2Nr-9zn7uL-63y6gw-dBxb89-osqN5Q-puEMu8-aCUpsa-ShwFAY-F2WRpc-9teebo-bhWXxi-21Mtmsg-ds892H-CUzD57-EkHhwK-ob3FwZ-eXmQtw, https://pixabay.com/en/handcuffs-money-corruption-economy-2070577/, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chronic_Traumatic_Encephalopathy.png