White-collar crime is a hot-button topic in Missouri. The category encompasses a broad range of actions, including the obvious:
- Securities fraud
- Money laundering
- Corporate fraud
But the list goes well into a variety of other offenses:
- Antitrust violations
- Trade secret theft
- Credit card fraud
- Internet and computer fraud
- Economic espionage
- Bankruptcy fraud
- Tax evasion
- And so much more
Once charged, you are subject to crushing regulatory scrutiny and criminal penalties. And it’s not always about greed.
Why white-collar crime
While greed and ladder climbing often rule, a lot of perpetrators stay motivated by a need to prove themselves under unrelenting stress. Corporate individuals strive to meet unrealistically high goals and targets.
In white-collar environments, there can be pressure to reach the top, to make it seem effortless. It’s also imaginable that many of these individuals travel through circles where ethics are ambiguous and ethical expectations and standards need not meet strict adherence to hit the target.
In large, isolated corporate workplaces, there may not be a clear structure for considering the adverse impact of our actions, especially when those impacted (consumers, employees, etc.) seem far removed and abstract.
Ironically, the average white-collar defendant never intended to break the law. These individuals find themselves overwhelmed and panicked about being masters of their universe. Success has become more important than ethics. They see the slippery slope but cannot see how to avoid it.
White-collar crime spikes after 9/11
Crimes like insider trading, wire fraud, and financial fraud went through the roof after the terrorist attacks of the World Trade attacks. That’s particularly true in regions where federal agencies focus their counterterrorism attention. It’s debated that those efforts weakened our country’s ability to investigate white-collar crime.
During the period, there was a 22 percent increase in banks reporting SARs (Suspicious Activity Reports) that covered commercial loan fraud, checking fraud, and self-dealing.
Ultimately, the findings argue federal agencies played a crucial role in white-collar crime prevention. One could as well argue that perpetrators of white-collar crime find themselves emboldened by the idea of less scrutiny by the federal government.
Crimes of opportunity
White-collar criminality can go undetected for years. And profiting off the act only encourages the perpetrator to keep going. These are crimes of opportunity. A person doesn’t need any particular criminal skill to engage in these actions. They use knowledge of the field, including an understanding of the law, to manipulate operations to their financial advantage.