This is a financially motivated mostly nonviolent crime that is committed by government and business professionals. It is a crime committed by persons of a high social status that happens in the course of his/her occupation(Nelken, 1994). White collar crimes are committed mostly for financial gain. These crime is quite complex to prosecute since the people involved use very sophisticated means to conceal their activities(Friedrichs, 2009). The most common of the white-collar crimes include: government fraud, securities fraud, tax evasion, money laundering, public corruption among others.
The General Strain Theory gives an explanation of white-collar crimes. According to the classic strain theory, individuals, regardless of the social class are encouraged to focus on monetary success or rather a middle-class status (Langton & Piquero, 2007). The lower class individual however, have a great challenge in achieving this through the legitimate channels. The frustration from this results to crime which may be used to obtain status, achieve monetary goals and also seek revenge from the perceived goal blockage.
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Another theory that best explains this is the rational choice theory. This theory mainly refers to a framework for understanding and properly molding both the social and economic aspects of the human behavior. According to this theory, people who commit crimes make rational decisions. This is by reviewing all the outcomes and possibilities. The outcomes are mostly from the benefits that the offenders hop to get from the crime. They also consider the chances of being imprisoned and thus decide consciously on how to commit the crime.
White collar crimes are very different from the conventional or the blue collar crimes. White collar crimes are closely associated with the values and attitudes of culture in a society. This is because the white collar criminals are stable, intelligent and successful people of high status. The white collar crimes are committed in the commercial world and are anonymous, difficult to detect, indirect and impersonal. The ordinary criminals who are said to commit the conventional crimes on the other hand commit direct crimes and in most cases might involve physical action such as beating and this can be easily detected (Friedrichs, 2009).
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The ‘blue collar crimes’ are mostly committed with persons who can be categorized as underprivileged while the white collar crimes are committed by people who come from the upper strata of the society(Friedrichs, 2009). However, status alone cannot be a differentiating factor of these two types of crimes. In some cases, the persons from the high status in the society can commit some conventional crimes such as murder, kidnapping, rape and assault. In this case, these crimes are taken seriously and are punished severely. On the other hand, the underprivileged persons can be at times involved in the crimes categorized as white collar such as tax evasion or corruption which in this case may not be handled as a serious offence(Friedrichs, 2009). This does not however guarantee that the white collar offences are petty. There is also some similarity between the white collar and the conventional crimes. Both of them have their origin to a common law and they also are an adaptation to the principles of fraud and theft among others.
Whistle blowers in this case can be very important people as they may help the authority to address more white-collar crimes. The problem with this is that their motivation is mostly by personal gain or revenge(Friedrichs, 2009). They may have known the plan from the time it was executed but they say it later after the damage has been done.
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It is quite hard to measure the prevalence of the white collar crimes. However, there have been several reports that have been done by collecting data on the public perceptions of the white collar crimes and surveys on the white collar crime victimization(Friedrichs, 2009). This is however not very reliable.
Better laws and regulations thus have to be employed. Like in the US, the US Congress was able to pass some laws and statutes between 1970’s and 1980’s. The Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) was associated originally with the mafia-related crime. It was then applied to the white collar crime. This made it easier to make prosecutions on the corrupt individuals and organizations as well as seize the assets that have been acquired through corruption. Regulations involving crimes have to be put in place. They have been evolving in many countries in the US. Such as the Western and Eastern Europe(Katz, 1979). Policing intelligence has to be improved so as to be able to confront these cases well. This will also enable the storage, application and retrieval of information resources.
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