White Collar Crimes: An Introduction
“Fraud—the art of deliberate deception for unlawful gain—is as old as history; the term “white-collar crime” was reportedly coined in 1939 by Professor Edwin Sutherland and has since become synonymous with the full range of frauds committed by business and government professionals.” (White collar crimes). With time the modern world’s relentless pursuit of excellence in engineering and technology provides both advantages and disadvantages to society. Taking the help of Information Technology various crimes of online financial scams and health care frauds are easily conducted by hi-tech criminals.
The FBI through their website reveals about the white-collar crime investigation and their strategic plan to find out if any. One of the examples of white-collar crime is Financial Institution Fraud (FIF). The remaining part of this report is the review of related articles from journals and other publications that describes the white-collar crime in detail. Apart from the above, the paper discusses the environmental hazards caused by improper disposal of waste oil. The government’s actions to sabotage OSHA are also discussed in the latter part. After that corporate crime and imprisonment against White Collar crimes are discussed. So this paper tries to reveal about the entire illegal activities normally seen in the nation.
Improper Disposal of Waste Oil and Environment Problems
One of the important issues the world faces today environmental pollution due to the recycling of Used Motor Oil or Waste Oil. The automobile engine system uses motor oil to control engine temperature generated due to fuel combustion. In the process of cooling and lubricating, engine oil adds several components such as iron, steel, copper, lead, zinc, barium, cadmium, sulfur, water, dirt, and ash. The additives, as well as the contaminants, make the motor oil more harmful to human beings. Therefore disposal of waste oil generates many environmental problems as the additives and contaminants enter into the environment through soil and water due to which living things suffer many short-term and long-term diseases and problems.
An unknowing leak from oil from the engine should be periodically checked and proper maintenance and repair are to be ensured. This is the major source of improper disposal of waste oil. One can realize this fact by putting a glance over the roads and parking areas. Many of such areas are mostly coated with dark disposals from engines. It is the result of oil and lubricant leakage from automobiles. During rainy seasons, the water carries it to the soil surface, further it moves to the water storage.
As and when the motor oil is put into the engine, it starts accepting poisonous materials, dirt particles, and other chemicals due to internal combustion. Thereby it changes into used oil. It is need of the hour to dispose of it properly. Otherwise, the entire world will experience adverse results from the waste oil particles.
Common Disposal Practices
Some people never take their vehicles to service centers, but they change the engine oil. This category is called Do-It-Yourselfers (DIY) and they are completely responsible for the proper disposal of waste oil. They may not possess the facilities for its disposal or storage. “Typical disposal methods include pouring it into the ground, spreading it over dirt roads, using it as weed-killer, putting it in household trash, or worst of all, pouring it directly into a waterway or down storm drains.” (Impact of disposal practices: Common disposal practices, 10).
DIY should be discouraged by the administration unless the concerned people do not adopt proper disposal procedures. Storing and recycling waste oil may help us to reduce the scarcity of oil resources in our country. Hence the nation’s dependence on other nations for oil resources will be reduced. With effective recycling and used oil management, our valuable energy resources and reserves may be conserved with the fuel oil extracted from waste oil. Certain oil recycling factories are also not adhering to the safety norms in their processes. They simply spread the wastages, that come from post recycling, across the soil or dump into the gutter.
White-Collar Crime(WCC) in Corporate World
The American law is changing or updating day to day by including modern innovations and perceptions as new legislatures that define possible boundaries for it. Crimes are also of different kinds. White-collar crimes are just one kind. So the law relates to it is also different from other laws. As white-collar crimes change quickly, the related law keeps on changing with time. Whereas law associated with estates, property, and contracts does not need any changes or updating. So these types of law are considered stable with their fundamentals. But due to the continuous changeability factor of white-collar crime, it is very difficult for organizations to understand it.
The technology and the level of people’s intelligence have increased in such a way that these factors unveil the so-called hidden crime, i.e. white-collar crime, to the world. The federal government also seriously watches on this type of crime and takes necessary preventive measures to curb this hidden menace.
“The interrelationship between white collar crime and corporate criminal liability merits consideration in light of the fluctuating nature of white collar crime and its increased breadth in the federal arena.” (Podgor, 2002). As published in the journal article by Ellen S. Podgor in the American Criminal Law Review, there is ambiguity in the formulation of government policies and implementation of related laws against white-collar crimes.
The issues related to this ambiguity become more aggravate as these types of crimes occur in hidden, eclectic, non-static, and prevalent everywhere. In the corporate world set up, white-collar crimes possess both corporate criminal accountability as well as personal liability. Due to the vast scope of occurrence in different areas like property and securities, its association with both civil and criminal law cannot be neglected. One with extraordinary efforts can only be able to understand the laws related to this crime and for this, he/she has to acquire vast knowledge. Efforts are being taken by the authorities to simplify the legislation, to define the law clearly, and to clarify the possible doubts existing with the law. This is a boon for corporate organizations and the personnel associated with it as they get valuable assistance in time.
WCC and Corporate Criminal Liability
An eminent sociologist Edwin Sutherland discovered and projected the term white-collar crime during his speech to the American Sociological Society in 1939. He criticized and opposed the existing theories of crime concept that crime generated from miserable social situations like poverty, psychopathic sociopathic conditions. He pointed out those criminals who operate in a shade of power and high social status. Sutherland clearly described the term in one of his later books, ‘White Collar Crime’, as “crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation.” (Podgor, 2002). Sutherland tried to unveil the class, social status, power, and easy accessibility to the resources of the offender.
In the present scenario, white collar crime has got new definitions. Many consider the corporate criminal liability as one feature of white-collar crime. But corporate criminal liability was prevalent long before the invention of the term white-collar crime. In normal course corporations cannot be blamed or held responsible for crimes as per the common law as generally they are brainless and don’t create an arena for causing crimes. So no corporate can be blamed for the criminal actions committed individually by any person or personnel of the corporation whether from an insider or outside of the organization’s territory.
WCC: Globalization & Federal Persecution
It has been seen for several previous years that criminal law has been subjected to various kinds of developments and modifications. It has been amended concerning the characteristics of federal crimes and their increasing nature. This report stresses the international interest, which is building up in the prosecution of WCC. Here the point of discussion is only limited within the boundary of the United States. As per the view of Ellen S. Podgor’s journal article published in American Criminal Law Review, it has been prescribed about a couple of approaches for federal prosecutions on WCC which is as follows: “First, one finds legislative language that provides a clear indication that extraterritoriality is intended to be covered by the statute.” “In the second approach, one finds judicial interpretation of criminal statutes permitting an international component.” (Podgor, GFPWCC, 1997).
This was the first approach giving stress upon the legislative procedure to be adopted in certain cases. But necessary judicial translation is also required to identify the span of the extraterritoriality provision. The second approach is straightaway not concerned with extraterritoriality that enables the court to differentiate the fact from the case.
As published in the article in USA Today magazine, “ONE IN THREE American households are victims of white-collar crime, yet just 41% actually report it” (Johnston, 2002). Out of these victims, only 21% initiated legal proceedings or approached to consumer protection wing. It shows merely a group of less than eight percent of WCC reaches the investigating agencies as per the public survey on WCC carried out by the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C).
The truth regarding the unveiled statistics about concealed WCC across the high-tech world is often alarming both the consumers as well as the business world. As US citizens fail to report these crimes, it leads to the loss of billions of government funds every year. The reason for not reaching such reports from victims may be due to the ignorance of general people regarding relevant rules about WCC. They may not consider these offenses as crimes or are uncertain about which authorities to approach in case they find any related crimes. Most people do believe that offenders can manage to escape from the apprehension taking the benefit of their status or political power, i.e. lack of faith in protecting agencies.
Different kinds of WCC can be noticed which include health care services, credit card facilities, life and property insurances, money laundering, securities, Information Technology / Telecommunication fraud, intellectual property, and theft of identity. The innovation of Web-based transactions in this modern information-savvy society help for the remarkable increase of economic crimes. Like the boon of IT also the people have to suffer its curse as the most of the offenders manage to escape with the help of latest information technology and communication techniques.
As per the data of the National Fraud Center, the US alone suffered an economic loss of more than 100,000 million in the year 1990. There has been a significant increase in the loss of the national economy due to economic crimes with the advent of computers and the Internet. With the rapid increase in WCC, some important questions regarding its seriousness, victim’s vulnerability, realization, report of victimization, White Collar Criminal’s identification, alertness against WCC, etc arose amongst the people. If proper cooperation and assistance of people are ensured then only the law enforcement agencies or consumer protection wing or such investigating team can deliver their duty with maximum output and efficiency.
An article by “Dan Bergevin in Security Management Magazine” (Bergevin, 2004) tried to determine the relationship of WCC with blue-collar ones such as robbery and murder. In most of the cases, courts take a lenient view by having some misapprehension that WCC produces any victims or victims never suffer any physical harm. In a newspaper article, it is revealed that in most of the WCC cases the offenders target the “assets of Mr. Bigs across the region.” (On the Trail of White Collar Crooks, 2006).
According to this article, the three major factors that rule over blue-collar crimes are Sex, Booze, and money. The Criminals are fascinated by these factors and they can bend to any extent and commit crimes for getting these. Gradually the blue-collar crimes have transformed into white-collar ones. From all these, we can conclude that WCC persists in both private organizations and public organizations even in government establishments very large in numbers, but the general people fail to recognize or put the offenders behind the bar.
WCC: Realities and Risks
Generally, it is seen that only a person with high public status and power is involved in WCC. The strength of this power may vary from corporate to government organizations based on a person’s association with that corporate or organization. In case a CEO or Chairman of a company delegates the power to his subordinate or a corporate executive and the subordinate gets full control of that firm. The subordinate, if he has an offender’s characteristic in his subconscious mind, may manipulate to grab individual profit without any thought of harming his company. “Perhaps the saddest cases are those employees who commit criminal acts in an attempt to please their bosses or show their value to the company” (Podgor, The challenge of white-collar sentencing, 2007).
But such employees seldom get direct or immediate benefit from such illegal deeds. They may have been adorned with power but in response get a very nominal reward. From the psychoanalysis of the offender, it can be determined that whether his intention is self-profit-making or just pleasing senior management. White-collar criminals can also create collateral damages or consequences to the organization. If found guilty, sharp punishment is to be awarded to the culprit to deter others from such criminal initiatives. Under the federal sentencing guidelines, the courts mostly never examine the motive of the accused but look into the offense how heinous it is. As per the gravity of the offense the necessary judgment is ordered.
One of the newspapers reported that in the US nearly 207000 complaints i.e. approximately 10 percent were filed by the consumers in the year 2005. “But the amount of money lost was $198 million in 2006, compared to $183 million in 2005, according to the 2006 Internet Crime Report prepared.” (Arlington Heights 2007) through “Sentencing Guidelines.” (Schanzenbach & Yaeger, 2006).
The objective is to nullify any sort of disparities, whether it is racial or ethic in sentencing for white-collar crimes, one cannot completely neglect the disparity factor which is prevalent in the US prosecution system. The disparity exists in terms of color (whites or blacks), sex (male or female), or wealth (rich or comparatively poor) of a person who commits a crime. In some cases, if a good sum of amount is paid then prison duration automatically gets shorten. This way most of the cases show the whites often get minimum duration sentences as they pay a huge sum of fines due to their disproportionate assets.
Crimes are always crimes that cannot be justified whether it is blue-collar or white-collar. Every criminal law tells about the prosecution and punishment theory. Humans formulated laws and legal proceedings to propagate well over bad deeds. Punishment processes also took into effect to deter offenders from their deeds. In this report, several reports from journals and other publications were reviewed from which a clear picture of white-collar crime has been reflected.
The discussion was limited within the context of US law and US proceedings. As per the analysis of available articles, it is revealed that white-collar crimes are not focused on a particular area, but it has spread its wings over from the corporate world to the government organizations. As it is quick-changing, formulating a stable law against it is a difficult process. The scope of WCC is very widespread in this age of changing technological world.
Due to its continuous changeability neither organizations nor the personnel related to the organization recognize it. If they do recognize they fail to report it to the proper investigating authority. This is because either they don’t have any knowledge about the laws regarding it or they have little faith in the preventing authorities. It is also discussed the ambiguity in developing government policies regarding WCC.
The characteristics of white-collar criminals as discussed generally they are very powerful in terms of political, societal, or wealthy power and high social status. After that, it has also been discussed about the legal proceedings against WCC and punishment awarded in the normal course. The disparities in sentencing prison and judgment favor are also discussed.
From the above review of articles, one factor is evident that white-collar crimes have already spread their branches in society and it is Herculean Task to curb it completely. But the nation needs to formulate a special kind of policy to tackle this menace. Though the efforts have been taken at various functionaries of the government, a proper study involving the psychoanalysis of human and societal behavior is to be conducted at various levels among employees and bureaucrats. Then only people would achieve the desired goal in controlling White Collar Crimes.
Bergevin, D. (2004). Security management: Profit without honor: White collar crime and the looting America, 3rd ed, 48.
Arlington Heights, IL. (2007). Web fraud: Losses still up Illinois ranks in top 10. Newspaper Article: Daily Herald. Web.
Johnston, Richard. (2002). USA Today: Society for the advancement of Education. BAWCC: The Battle against White-Collar Crime, 130.
On the trail of white collar crooks. (2006). The Journal: Newcastle, England.
Podgor, Ellen S., (1997). GFPWCC: Globalization and the federal prosecution of white collar crime. Journal article by American Criminal Law Review, 34.
Podgor, Ellen S. (2002). CWCC: Corporate and white collar crime: simplifying the ambiguous. Journal article by Jennifer S. Recine: American Criminal Law Review, 39.
Podgor, Ellen S. (2007). The challenge of white collar sentencing. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 97.
Schanzenbach, Max., & Yaeger, Michael L. (2006). Prison time, fines, and federal white-collar criminals: The anatomy of a racial disparity. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 96. Web.
White collar crimes. FBI: Federal Bureau of Investigation. Web.
Impact of disposal practices: Common disposal practices. Teachers Guide. 10. Web.