Although seldom associated with violence, white-collar crime is far from victimless. People lose life savings and businesses go bankrupt on a daily basis because of the actions of crafty white-collar criminals. Since this type of crime has become more prevalent and broader in scope, becoming familiar with the various types of white-collar crime is an absolute must for anyone considering a career in criminal justice.
Affecting businesses of all sizes, embezzlement occurs when someone within an organization deliberately misappropriates funds to suit his or her own purposes. People who engage in embezzlement often occupy positions of authority at their workplaces and have advanced access to company finances. As students of criminal justice are aware, CEOs and high-level accountants are among the most common perpetrators.
In some cases, embezzlement is committed by an outside source. Stock brokers and financial advisors have been known to misuse and improperly invest funds with which they’ve been entrusted. Before trusting an outside party with company money, make a point of thoroughly vetting the individual or company. Additionally, even after enlisting the services of an advisor or broker, request detailed reports of any investments he or she makes on your business’s behalf.
Credit Card Fraud
With cash and check payments becoming increasingly less common, instances of credit card fraud have shot up. As Statistic Brain reports, this type of fraud costs credit card companies over $5 billion annually. Regardless of where you use your credit cards, everyone is at risk for this crime. Not only can hackers gain access to your credit card info by raiding your email, store clerks and waiters have been known to quickly memorize card numbers and jot them down for later use.
To combat this problem, many card companies employ security teams trained to detect fraud in the earliest stages. In many cases, your credit card provider will contact you if your record shows any unusual charges. Additionally, if you come across any unfamiliar charges on your bill, don’t hesitate to place a call to the company’s theft department.
Because many insurance providers have an unfortunate reputation of mistreating customers, certain individuals are all too willing to mistreat them in turn. Insurance fraud takes place when people convince their insurance providers to pay for grossly overstated or outright untrue claims. Retribution for poor service is a common motive amongst insurance fraud perpetrators, but in many cases, the desire for undeserved payouts is the sole motivator.
Even though perpetrators’ intent may be to deal a blow to insurance providers, insurance fraud ultimately winds up hurting other customers. The FBI estimates that fraudulent claims cost providers over $40 million a year. These costs are subsequently passed onto customers in the form of increased premiums and selective coverage. If you’re unhappy with your auto, homeowners or health insurance, shopping around for a new provider is a far more attractive option than submitting fraudulent claims.
If criminals get their hands on your bank account information, they can do some real damage. Bank fraud occurs when someone writes checks, cashes checks or makes account withdrawals in another person’s name. Cybercriminals have been known to gain access to victims’ bank account information by hacking into their email accounts, enabling them to withdraw money without victims’ knowledge or consent. Having this information also gives criminals the ability to order checks in their victims’ names and keep watch over their account statements.
To help protect you from bank fraud, many banks will contact you or put a hold on your account if an inordinate number of withdrawals are being made in your name. Certain banks will also reimburse you for any money stolen under their watch.
A common crime in the business world, extortion involves threatening people for the purpose of taking their money. This crime usually entails someone within a company threatening to disclose sensitive information about an executive or high-ranking official if a large sum of money isn’t paid. Since extortion victims may be engaged in illegal activities themselves, many of them see no choice but to give perpetrators what they want. Extortion can also involve threats of murder or bodily harm if a certain amount isn’t paid. If nothing is done, victims can spend decades giving hush money to their tormentors.
As white-collar crime continues to plague the financial world, keeping your money safe is more important than ever. By developing an understanding of the most common types of white-collar crime, you can keep your money out of the hands of thieves, defrauders and extortionists.