Alcorn, Sage, Schwartz &
Magrath LLP

What drives someone to commit a white collar crime?

White collar crimes involve things like embezzlement, fraud, money laundering and other similar acts. They often provoke a lot of strong emotional reactions these days, in part because so many people have been victimized by large pyramid schemes, insider trading scandals, corporate theft and insurance fraud. The penalties for most white collar crimes have become increasingly fierce, judges and juries are largely unsympathetic and the public opinion can be brutal.

So, why do people take the risk? What drives someone to take that kind of risk or make that kind of mistake?

Several different factors may come into play:

1. The invisibility of the victims.

Many white collar crimes have "invisible" victims. The person committing the crime never sees the people directly affected by his or her actions or sees it as a crime against a faceless institution, not real people.

2. The work atmosphere is toxic.

If you work in a place where rules are made to be bent (if not outright broken) and you're constantly encouraged to skirt around "technicalities," your sense of right and wrong can diminish.

Similarly, if you work in an environment where you are devalued or demeaned, you may feel like your actions are justified or retribution against the company for mistreating you.

3. A belief that the rules are unfair.

This may be your own opinion or one that you pick up from your boss. (For example, why shouldn't you be allowed to tell your Dad about a hot stock tip?) When people perceive rules as unfair, they're more likely to break them.

Most white collar criminals would never dream of robbing someone at gunpoint or stealing someone's wallet -- but they make ethical mistakes that can involve large sums because of their environment and core beliefs. If you've made a mistake and have been charged with a serious financial crime or other white collar crime, find out more about your legal rights today.

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