White Collar Crimes Research Paper


To understand and even debate on the subject of shaming of white collar crime perpetrators, it is important to know what the term itself means. White collar crimes refer to crimes committed by government and business professionals with financial motivation lacking violence. The individuals committing such crimes are usually of high social standing and respectability. White collar criminals commit the crimes due to financial motivation. They usually do not have the intention of harming people, but their actions have both direct and indirect implications on people all over the world. Types of white collar crimes include fraud, labor racketeering, copyright infringement, cybercrime and money laundering among others. White collars crimes are committed for some reasons which may have first or minor consequences depending on the intensity and type of the offence committed, which result in harsh penalties. One of these penalties is shaming and it destroys the reputations of the criminal making it hard for him to get back on his feet.

Why White Collar Crimes are Committed

Individuals who commit white collar crimes weigh the pros and cons of committing such a crime to see if it is in their best interest (Elliot, 2017). They compare the results of having committed the offence to the outcomes of not committing the crime. Other criminals commit such crimes due to their genetic makeup which makes them vulnerable to committing crimes (Elliot, 2017). Organisations and companies find themselves committing white collar crimes due to their desires to reduce costs and expenses and increase profitability (Elliot, 2017). For example, a company will prefer to illegally dump waste or evaporate it into the environment to reduce the costs that arise from waste management.

Read also Social Class And Unemployment: Relationship To Crime

Types of White Collar Crimes

Corporations or individuals sometimes find themselves being deceived by other companies or people to make a profit (Elliot, 2017). This crime is referred to as fraud. Fraud occurs in the form of misinterpretation of company products, and misleading advertising is done to maximize sales. Bribery occurs when a person in possession of something of value uses it to influence or tempt another person to get him to act in a certain way. Corruption usually involves the use of money. Offering and accepting bribes are both illegal.

Forgery includes making, altering, being in possession or using falsified documents. These documents include checks and contracts (Legal Dictionary, 2017). Fraud is committed with the intention. Insider trading goes against the law when an individual or a group of people engage in the sale of stocks with special knowledge unavailable to other people outside the company.  Embezzlement of funds is the case where an individual steals money from his clients without their knowledge. For example, an accountant directing client’s money into his own secret account is a form of embezzlement of funds.

Implications of White Collar Crimes

White collar crimes lead to far-reaching economic problems. For example, the financial crisis in 2009 was blame on white collar crimes. The real effects of fraud are yet to be realized as the offence may take a long time before it can be detected and even brought to court (Legal Dictionary, 2017). White collar crimes may have environmental implications, in the case of companies that dump waste illegally or those that allow it to evaporate into the air. White collar crimes have effects on both groups and individuals who play no part in the offence. Fake HIV testing kits have led to victims living under stigmatization and taking anti-retroviral drugs when they really are not infected.

Penalties for White Collar Crimes

Penalties for white collar crimes vary. Courts passing judgement over these cases use sentencing guidelines to ensure that the sentences are uniform (McGrath, 2017). The belief that white collar criminals get easy time is untrue. White collar crimes result in social and employment consequences as criminals have a hard time getting work (Legal Dictionary, 2017). White collar criminals also experience social stigma.

Read also The National Response Plan for White Collar Crime

Perpetrators found guilty of embezzlement of funds usually find themselves serving up to two years imprisonment together with a minimum of $250,000. These penalties usually have effects on the criminals as they find themselves changing for the good. Some states prefer the punishment of public humiliation, also referred to as public shaming(Kostelnik, 2012). Here, an individual stands in a public place holding a banner stating his crime for the public to witness. There have been countless debates over the use of public humiliation to punish white collar criminals.

Public Shaming

Shaming in public has been used as a form of punishment for a long time now (American University Law Review, 2011). Public humiliation has been used to punish a broad range of crimes. It is preferred over incarceration as it does require much of society’s resources while providing the same rate of deterrence. There are four variants of shaming, and these include stigmatizing publicity, literal stigmatization, self-debasement and finally, contrition. Shaming of white collar criminals is efficient (American University Law Review, 2011). The offender remains incapacitated as the general public will react naturally by avoiding him. Shaming destroys the perpetrator’s reputation, putting him out of business.

Defendants who plead guilty face a similar fate (Kostelnik, 2012). The criminals will hardly find themselves in their same job positions (American University Law Review, 2011). Their dignity lowered and reputations lost, they usually change their criminal ways. It is usually difficult for them to re-offend. Sometimes, the individuals are not allowed to interact with certain people, for example their friends(American University Law Review, 2011). This restriction is part of the punishment.

Public shaming does not work on every perpetrator of white collar crimes. Others will still find their way back to their evil habits undeterred by the public shaming they have undergone (American University Law Review, 2011). Not all perpetrators make it to the papers. With their identity known only to those in the same area as they, white collar criminals can easily relocate to other areas and find new unknowing victims(American University Law Review, 2011). Some critics have argued that public shaming is harsh and cruel, but these are just conclusions made without enough research or facts (Kostelnik, 2012). One cannot compare public shaming to imprisonment as they are not the same. One will easily choose public humiliation over imprisonment any day (American University Law Review, 2011). Imprisoned criminals will most likely commit white collar crimes on their release, compared to those who have experienced public shaming (Kostelnik, 2012). Perpetrators who were in prisoner know that their crimes are not known to many people and might end up dealing in the same trade, victimizing a different unaware people. Others come out feeling even more motivated.

White Collar Crimes According To Edwin Sutherland

According to Edwin Sutherland, white collar crimes breeds’ distrust, lowers social morale while representing attacks on social institutions. He argued that the public did not see the act as a crime at all as it was thought of as “victimless” or non-violent nature. The unlawful activity fall into a number of categories; first being looting or collective embezzlement where insiders rob funds from the institutions they are put in charge of.

White collar crimes are being treated with respect in our governments. This probably is likely to make the future generation chose these types of crimes because they know they won’t be charged. White collar crime is one kind of corporate crime. But why should the government delay to punish those convicted with such acts? (Podgor & Ellen, 2014).


White collar crimes occur in different types, for example fraud, bribery and embezzlement of funds. All these types of white collar crimes have almost the same effects on individuals and companies. These effects may be unnoticeable while other may result in loss of lives. Others may be horrific environmental implications further destroying the planet. The penalties for these crimes should be harsh so as to prevent the criminals from committing white collar crime again. Perpetrators should be fined huge amounts of money and face long prison sentences to ensure they do not redo the crimes. Shaming has been thought of and debated on, on whether it is a good form of punishment and if it will do well the criminals. It is indeed a good form of punishment as it is efficient and does not waste public resources; public humiliation has proved on most white collar criminals. It certainly should be considered as a reliable way to punish white collar criminals.

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