Discuss/debate your position on which factors you feel play a greater role pertaining to the problems associated with defining and determining the frequency of white-collar crime. Also, discuss possible solutions to this problem.
PEER 1:White collar crimes differ from the traditional crimes and so do the white-collar criminals. The white-collar criminals are less likely to have multiple or long criminal records (Weisburd et al., 2001). White collar crimes are not your typical types of crimes but can be fueled by the same things as financial and family crisis. The term white-collar crime was coined in 1939 and is synonymous of full range frauds committed by business and government professionals (FBI, 2016). The majority of the motivation behind this type of crime is financial so as to not lose money or to obtain money, property, services to ascertain personal and or business advantages. All crime in some way or another has victims, so this is not a victimless crime in anyway. Someone is losing out on something and is having something taken from them. One single scam from a white-collar crime can take down an entire company, take everything from investors like billons of dollars which could destroy family’s life savings who put their money into those investments. Due to the sophisticated technology out there means that the white-collar crimes committed are the most sophisticated we have ever seen and only getting more sophisticated. The FBI has special units dedicated to tracking and stopping white-collar crimes to the point of trying to predict and stop them before they ever get a chance to happen. The FBI unit white-collar crime works integrates intelligence with investigations of criminal activities. The FBI as a whole, investigates a number of crimes, the worst of the worst and sees more than the normal person would dare to see every day. Domestic terrorism being one of the deadliest they investigate it still doesn’t hold a light to corporate fraud since that is the FBI’s highest criminal priority. Corporate fraud can cause significant damage to the US’ economy and the confidence of investors. Another type of white-collar crime is money laundering, which is where criminals conceal or disguise proceeds that they make look like they came from an actual legitimate place. Though it can be called many different things, essentially money laundering is turning what they call dirty money into clean money. This process undermines the integrity and stability of financial institutions. White-collar crimes are really hard to prosecute due to the sophisticated nature in which they hide their tracks while committing the crime. One thing that helps prosecutors in a trial are whistleblowers. These people “blow” the whistle on the crime and help take down the criminals within. A well-known whistle blower and controversial one is Edward Snowden. The FBI reports that white-collar crime costs the United States over $300 billion dollars annually. The penalties to these crimes can consist of fines, home detentions, community confinement, paying costs of prosecutions, forfeitures, restitutions, supervised releases, and prison time (Legal, n.d.). There are multiple agencies that investigate these crimes like the IRS (Internal Revenue Service), SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission. These agencies work tirelessly to thwart the white-collar crimes that get committed all the time. They have the resources and time to put into investigating these crimes.
PEER 2:Defining white-collar crimes often seems easy and distinguishable from all other crimes. But there is some overlap and confusion when distinguishing white-collar crimes and corporate crimes. The main difference between the two is that white-collar crimes typically involve benefits and acts related to an individual whereas corporate crimes are committed to benefit a company or organization, typically financially. Outside of this main difference, they are very similar. They involve some sort of fraud or damage in the pursuit of financial gain. For example, the infamous Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme is one of the most high-profile white-collar crimes. Mr. Madoff took billions of dollars form investors over several decades using his wealth management business and used it to benefit himself and his family (Office of Public Affairs, 2021). A famous example of a corporate crime is the Enron scandal where top officials of the company overhauled assets to boost cash flow and earning statements, making the company appear to be more competitive than it was. This ultimately cost investors millions and led to a major investigation of the company. Both of these examples seem similar and may both appear to be corporate or white-collar crimes, but the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme mostly benefited one person and his family where Enron was a giant corporate entity.Determining the frequency of white-collar crimes is difficult for many reasons. First, public perception of white-collar crime versus violent street crime could result in less focus and less motivation to research and report white-collar crimes. The public perception of white-collar crime is often viewed by the public as not being as serious as violent-street crime, despite having a much higher rate of victims (Michel, 2016). Along with this, there are theories that white-collar crimes are often hidden or covered up because they are often crimes committed by the elite and powerful. With this, organizations such as the National White-Collar Crime Center are funded by Congress and potentially hindered by political influence (Michel, 2016). White-collar crime by nature and perception of the public a surreptitious crime. Public perception as well as political and elitist influence may lead to white-collar crimes being misrepresented and under-reported.Another issue with determining the frequency of white-collar crimes is the shear volume in which it happens. One estimate predicts that nearly 300,000 people die of white-collar related crimes each year (Michel, 2016). The estimate is caveated with the fact that it is a very conservative estimate. With the volume and the surreptitious nature of these crimes, it becomes very difficult to identify, track, and report accurate numbers and a frequency of occurrence of these crimes. Another hindrance is that victims often do not realize that they are victims and therefore fail to report the crime (McGurrin et al., 2013). Those who commit white-collar crimes do so because they are in a position where they can take advantage of people and get away with it. Their victims may not realize that they are being tricked or taken advantage of because they may not be familiar or experts in the area they are being victimized. If they are unaware that a crime is happening to them then it will go unreported. This leaves a wide range of possibilities for white-collar crimes to go undetected.