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An Introduction to Corporate Crime

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In 1939 Edwin Sutherland coined the phrase “White Collar Crime”. Sutherland defined this type of crime as, “a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation.” (Sutherland). This type of crime is common in professional workplaces such as investment banks, corporations, and insurance agencies.White Collar Crime has been prevalent in society and the media due to the scale of the people affected. An upward trend in White Collar Crime is largely due to increased internet use and a push by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to pursue more cases (Henning). Investigating and convicting a suspect can be very difficult due to the lack of a trail left behind by the perpetrator.

I chose to interview Senior Fraud Investigator Glen Doyle of New York Commercial Bank on Long Island. Glen has worked for NYCB for 12 years and attended 4 years of higher education at an unspecified college. My aunt also works in the same bank and helped me get in touch with Glen Doyle. His extensive knowledge and experience in the field are why I chose to interview him. Going into the interview I wanted to find out the difficulties faced and tactics used by investigators to find the person responsible for the crime. I also wanted to find out if there are any ways the average American can help prevent being a victim of White Collar Crime. Glen was helpful in answering most of my questions but there were some questions he could have gone into more detail in his answer.

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I asked Mr.Doyle for his definition of White Collar Crime. He responded with, “a person who works in a clerical or business environment who has the ability to move money from place to place”. From his perspective big corporations are not in his jurisdiction to investigate for White Collar Crimes. Mr.Doyle investigates what are considered low-level offenders that attempt to fraud the bank he works at. This goes to show that White Collar Crimes affect people throughout all of society and there are people in place to help prevent it. The second question I asked Mr.Doyle was how he thinks the public views White Collar Crime. Mr.Doyle responded with “The public is not aware of most White Collar Crimes. I feel that people use the crimes against large corporations do not get upset that the corporations’ have a lot of money”. This answer touches on the public’s view of White Collar Crime. In The public view of White Collar Crime is vital to the success of investigators. If the public becomes victim to a White Collar Crime heightened awareness helps make the perpetrator’s behavior noticeable of investigators. In 1983 one research study revealed that over 80 percent of subjects felt that white-collar criminals are treated too leniently and should be punished as street criminals (Cullen, Mather, Clark, & Cullen, 1983).

Later on in the interview I asked Mr.Doyle how difficult it is to detect signs of fraudulent behavior in his field. His response noted that many times a victim may not know they are a victim and it may take months or years to find out. By the time he is notified the damage is done and now it is his job to find the perpetrator in conjunction with prosecutors. I also asked Glen of some examples of how offenders fraud their victims. He stated that, “Some of the examples are embezzlement, money laundering, and Ponzi schemes”. These kinds of business practices are common of white-collar criminals because they are easily replicated and go undetected. These business ethics are flawed yet still practiced by individuals and corporations. An article on a former white-collar criminal’s lessons on business ethics states that, “The No. 1 goal is to make our companies safer to work in and reduce the temptation by making people aware of what risks there are, to keep it from happening to begin with”.(Wickham, Pavlo) This means that corporations should raise awareness on the consequences of these practices and encourage proper business ethics.

The last question I asked Mr.Doyle was for some tips people should do to help avoid being a victim of White Collar Crime. His answer noted that people should do a credit check on themselves 3-4 times a year. He also said to shred all personal information received in the mail that is not necessary. What surprised me was his last answer. Mr.Doyle was quoted saying “Also be aware when you use Wi-Fi such as in Starbuck, hotels, or any other spots that offer free Wi-Fi because criminals prey on people in these locations”. This answer goes to show that White-Collar criminals use many tactics in their quest to take hard working citizen’s money.

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