White-collar crime

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Concept.png White-collar crime 
(Crime,  Corruption)Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
White-collar crime.jpg
Crimes by well educated people, often with high social status.

White-collar crime is financially motivated, not directly violent crime committed through deceptive practices, by individuals, businesses and government officials.[1] It overlaps with corporate crime.

While not violent and for some time not viewed as serious by society at at large,[2] these crimes are today thought of as: "just as severe and devastating as street crimes"[3] (but may even be on the level of the most significant types of crime globally, like the drug and weapons trade).

It was first defined by the sociologist Edwin Sutherland in 1939 as:

"a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of their occupation"

The American anti trust laws, such as the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 and Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914, are the background on which he formulated the concept (see also Cartel).


White-collar criminals usually occupy a professional position of power and/or prestige, and one that commands well above average compensation.[4] A considerable percentage of white-collar offenders are middle-aged Caucasian men who usually commit their first white-collar offense sometime between their late thirties through their mid-forties and appear to have middle-class backgrounds.[5]

LA Times Aug. 18, 2006: A U.S. Federal Court ruled that the major domestic cigarette manufacturers were guilty of conspiring to deny, distort, and minimize the hazards of cigarette smoking to the public and ordered corrective statements to correct these deceptions.[6][7][8][9][10]

White-collar crimes may include:


Edwin Sutherland (1883 - 1950) was an American sociologist and is considered as one of the most influential criminologists of the 20th century. He wanted to find a general theory of the typical criminal and by reading other researchers work, getting the idea that all criminals were stereotyped as impoverished or of low social standing he found that hard to believe considering people of high social standing committed crime as well.[13] In his book Sutherland said "White collar crime may be defined as approximately as a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation."[14]

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