White Collar Crime
Welcome to the age of white collar crime. A time when the words thieves and businessmen go hand in hand. White collar criminals don't get their hands dirty in their work. They use their heads to get what they want instead of using a little muscle. These criminals are just as dangerous as the rapists and murderers. In these times, even the most seemingly respectable people are suspected of white collar crimes. President Clinton and the first lady Hillary Clinton have been tangled up in the Whitewater and Travelgate business ventures. Although the two have not been formally charged with any wrongdoing, there is a committee currently investigating their dealings and charges are not out of the question for either of them. In Michael Isikoff's and Mark Hosenball's Newsweek article "Cracks in the Wall," they describe the Clintons' dealings with Whitewater and the possible consequences of them: "The Senate Whitewater committee is considering asking for perjury charges against Susan Thomas and Maggie Williams, Mrs. Clintons' chief of staff, in connection with her testimony about the removal of documents from Vince Foster's office" (Isikoff 29). This case goes to show that there presently a growing problem with our country, and it is called white collar crime. White collar crimes are very numerous in kind. New ones are always being invented by someone with a good scam. Embezzlement, tax evasion, and fraud are some of the more popular kinds. A person who has the power of controlling money in a business is most likely commit Embezzlement. A shortened definition of embezzlement is "to steal money that is entrusted to Phillips 2 one." This is one of the fastest rising crimes in the nation. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, embezzlement rose thirty eight percent from 1984 to 1993 (U.S. Dept. of Justice 239). Forgery is another growing form of white collar crime. This is defined as the act of imitating or counterfeiting documents or signatures for the purpose of deceiving someone. Forgery also shows the same growth trends as embezzlement. From 1984 to 1993 forgery and counterfeiting increased twenty-one percent (U.S. Dept. of Justice 240). Bogus ads, job scams, and telephone scams are all examples of fraud. Basically these scams ask you to send money for something that is non-existent. An example of a telephone scam would be if someone called to ask for donations for a phony organization or charity. If you donated the money, it would either not get to the organization or charity you wanted, or the charity simply did not exist in the first place. The most obvious way these crimes differ from other crimes is that they don't require any "dirty work." When people think of crimes, they think of get away cars and bank heists, but many criminals never even touch a gun. Their weapon of choice is a computer or a telephone. They are just as deadly with these as the man with the gun in the bank. White collar crimes are committed out of greed. The people who usually commit these crimes are financially secure. A lot of crimes are committed out of greed, but virtually all white collar crimes are committed out of greed. Statistics show that the majority of white collar crimes are committed by certain groups of people. Using the Federal Bureau of Investigation's findings, White collar crimes are definitely committed by certain people. nine thousand five-hundred and six people, who were all over eighteen, were arrested for embezzlement in nine-teen ninety three. Only five hundred and eighty- Phillips 3 six people under eighteen were arrested for the same crime, in the same year. The findings were nearly the same although for men and women. Men were one and a half times more likely than women to embezzle money. The statistics for fraud and forgery were nearly the same (U.S. Dept. of Justice 239) From these findings, men over eighteen are most likely to be charged with embezzlement, fraud or forgery. Women over the age of eighteen are a little less likely to commit one of the specified white collar crimes. People in authority positions are also more likely to commit these crimes. These people have more opportunities to commit a white collar crime than a person with little authority. Peter Michelmore, a journalist for Readers Digest describes this situation well in his article, "On the Trail of a Scam" He describes a savings and loan scam and the man behind it all. "Meyer learned that New Era was run by John G. Bennet, Jr., a 57 year old evangelical Christian." (112) New Era was a getting money from a private university, in which he promised huge returns on their investment. New Era did show them huge profits, but only to gain their trust and invest more money. The private university was gaining trust in New Era and investing more money. Finally, when They had invested a large sum of money, New Era collapsed and John Bennet walked away with the university's money. Mr. Bennet is a prime example of our findings. He is a man over the age of eighteen and he is in a position of power. People have entrusted him with their money. To commit his crime, he needed to be in a position where he was trusted, or in authority. After he won their trust, he took their money. White collar crimes are growing at an alarming rate and must be curbed. There are many things that the nation can do to slow the growth of these crimes. The white collar crime that affects the most people is the scam. For that reason, scam prevention will be emphasized more than embezzlement. I feel that the most effective weapon against these crimes is to inform the Phillips 4 public. If the general population knew more about these scams they could protect themselves much better. Alison Young, a Detroit Free Press journalist, has a few tips. Take a look at the what the person is offering or trying to sell you. Make sure that it is plausible. If the person or organization you are dealing with has an eight hundred number, call it and request information. Be very weary of anyone who will not comply. Use caution around people who try to do quick deals or say that you must act now. Do not give out your credit card number by phone to someone whom you are not comfortable with. If you discover a scam being run with a legitimate company's name, let the company know so they can fix the problem. (from Young A1+) These tips, along with using old fashioned common sense should help keep anyone out of the grips of a scam or any other sort of fraudulent business encounter. The most obvious way to help stop these crimes is to impose stricter penalties for committing them. This would scare off anyone considering committing a white collar crime. If someone knows that if they get caught, they will face a long prison sentence, it would make them less likely to even consider it. A couple of problems with this possible solution is that sentences for white collar crimes are already strict and prisons in our country are beginning to become overcrowded. Taking those two factors into consideration, harsher sentences on white collar crimes does not seem to be the answer. Possibly the answer to slowing down the growth of white collar crimes is to make them harder to commit. In the case of embezzlement, if everyone at a particular business or company would keep a an eye out for anything suspicious, that alone would detour potential thieves. The real solution to this problem is going to have to come from the people who are being affected by it. They are the most likely to stop it. They cannot let anyone take advantage of them anymore. Keep Phillips 5 an eye out for yourself, and let everyone know that you are keeping an eye out. A person with this attitude will be a less likely target. White collar crimes are a rapidly growing problem concerning our nation and need to be controlled. They are growing at such an alarming rate that soon they could be on the top of our country's list of problems. The growth of these crimes is comparable to growth of this nation's drug problem. Drugs were once a isolated problem in this country. Most did not give them much thought because it didn't have much of an effect on them. Most do not give white collar crimes much thought because they are only things that they read about in newspapers and hear on the news. If these crimes continue to grow at the present rate, they will be out of control before we know it.
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