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White Collar Crime Should Only Refer To Acts Committed By Higher Status Individuals And Institutions

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Introduction

I do not agree with the statement “White Collar Crime should only refer to acts committed by higher status individuals and institutions” because white collar crime is typically defined as, a non-violent crime with a financial motivation. This means that anyone with established finances would be able to commit a white-collar crime. Meaning that more than just higher status individuals and institutions. One type of White collar crime is an Occupational Crime. This refers to the crimes committed by the people and or institutions who aren’t high status. The first idea of occupational crime was defined by Marshall Barron Clinard and Richard Quinney and they said it was a “violation of the legal codes in the course of activity in a legitimate occupation”.

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Small Business Crimes

One example of someone who can commit an occupational crime, is a small business. Small businesses can commit many occupational crimes such as, deceptive and fraudulent advertising, purchase and resale of stolen goods and failure to deliver goods and services. Deceptive advertising is when a company uses misleading and or false claims in their advertising. Businesses use this to entice people into buying their products. Another crime that a small business might commit is purchasing and reselling stolen goods. This is when a company goes out and purchases a stolen product for very little money, and re-sells it to their customers. An example of this is in 2016 a husband and wife in Vancouver were arrested for purchasing and reselling stolen goods. “Vancouver Police say the couple, ages 74 and 69, functioned as a “predatory fence” by purchasing goods and items from drug addicts. The items were then resold to individuals from their home, or sent overseas, where it was further distributed to small retailers. ” Another example of a crime that a small business can commit is a financial crime. This can involve: non-payment of social security taxes, non-payment of sales taxes, under-reporting income, exaggerating deduction and fraudulent record keeping. Businesses will under-report their income so that when they go to pay their taxes, it will be much cheaper. In Canada, if a company makes under $33, 000 then they do not have to charge and pay sales taxes. “A sales tax is a consumption tax imposed by the government on the sale of goods and services. A conventional sales tax is levied at the point of sale, collected by the retailer, and passed on to the government. ” Some companies who make under $33, 000 will still charge customers sales taxes and pocket the extra profit. Another common crime that small businesses commit is retail crime. This can involve things like product substitution, product mislabeling, and spoilage. Product substitution is when a business knowingly changes something without the customers knowledge. Companies will do this because the product they are substituting may be more expensive. “Substitution is particularly common and damaging in contracts calling for expensive, high grade materials that can be replaced by less expensive, similar appearing products. ”

Product mislabeling is very similar to this. It is when a company will try to pass off an item as something else. For example if in a grocery store something is labeled as organic but its just regular food. Another kind of retail crime is “short weighting. ” This is when a customer is given less than what they have paid for. For example if you paid for two pounds of nuts but you were only given one and a half. As well as “short weighting” there is bait and switch. This is when a customer is baited into buy a product but when they go to buy it, the product has been changed. Of few examples of this can be when the product is something completely different, it’s not the same price they said it was. An example of this is, in 2005 Dell was sued for using “bait and switch” tactics. “The case centers on the allegation that Dell advertises low prices for its computers, but people who try to purchase a machine at the advertised price find it’s no longer available for that price. ” For instance, a lady went to buy a Dell notebook that was advertised for $599 as well as a printer for $89 but in total paid $1, 352.

Another type of retail crime is a barcode “error. ” This is when there is a sale or promotion, but the item’s barcode has not been updated yet, so when the item is scanned at the cash register, it will come up as full price. This can be bad because some customer may be purchasing items that are normally out of their price range. They think that an item that they normally wouldn’t be able to afford is now affordable but what they don’t know is that when they go to pay, it won’t be the price they saw on the shelf. Lastly a retail crime could be spoilage and presentation. Spoilage and presentation is when a company will try to make food they are selling look more fresh than it actually is. They make the product look new and not like something that has been sitting there for a couple of days. Small businesses are more likely to do this because each sale matters. Another crime a small business can commit is defrauding vulnerable people. This includes things like rent to buy schemes and payday loans. A “rent to buy” scheme is when something is paid by regular installments but when they finish paying all the installments, the total paid is much more than what they would have paid if that had just paid the full price when they purchased it. Another example of defrauding a vulnerable person is with a Payday loan. This a place where you can go get a small loan to sustain you until your next paycheck, when you pay them back. These loans come with a huge interest rate that are so high that fourteen states in America have banned Payday loan shops.

Fraud committed by a service business is another type of small business occupational crime. These are very well known for exploiting their customers. In a study done in 1941, a car that only had a detached coil wire was brought to 347 auto repair shops and they found that about 63% of them made up things that were wrong with the car and overcharged the customer. Because of customer’s lack of knowledge about things like this, it is very easy for companies providing a service to take advantage of them. Employee exploitation is another example of an occupational crime that a small business might commit. This can take place in many forms. In 2011 Apple was accused of exploiting Chinese workers. One employee told The Guardian “her experience has been one of illegally long hours and draconian rules for a basic daily wage of as little as £5. 20. ” Lastly, a small business may commit an occupational crime by failing to deliver a good and or service. This is much more common with online stores. An example of this could be if a customer purchases an item from a company and the product they ordered never shows up. Another type of occupational crime Is a crime by a professional.

Crimes by Professionals

A professional can include doctors, a teachers and lawyers. Some examples of white collar crimes that doctors can commit are violent crimes. This is when a doctor will give unnecessary surgeries and procedures. An example of this was in 2001 a baseball player, Jonathan Stelly, underwent an unnecessary surgery where he was given a pacemaker that he didn’t need. “The doctor’s office called afterward with shocking news: if Stelly wanted to live to age 30, he was told, he’d need a pacemaker… “I did what the doctor said” he recalls. “I trusted him. ”” Soon after his surgery it was revealed that the doctor who told him he needed one was being investigated for giving unneeded surgeries. After hearing this Stelly had multiple doctors review his case and they all said that he didn’t need the pacemaker. Another white collar crime that a medical professional might commit is fraud. An example of this is health care schemes. An example of a health care scheme is in 2014 Tracie Yvette Clay was proved guilty for being involved in medicaid fraud. “Clay submitted billings for Medicaid payments to the North Carolina Division of Medical Assistance. Clay also submitted claims for mental health treatment using “clients” who never received services from NC Behavioral and were unaware that someone was using their Medicaid identification numbers. ”

Another type of professional who can commit a white collar crime is a Lawyer. One way that a lawyer may take advantage of its customer is by overbilling. Most lawyers charge you by the hour. This means that they can charge you for things they work on while you are not there, for example doing background research. This means that they can charge you for how ever many hours they please. For example, they may have only worked ninety minutes, but they’ll charge you for two hours. In a survey done by Samford University in 2007 “More than one-third of American lawyers admitted to occasionally double-billing clients”. One example of a firm who was overcharging its clients was the personal injuries law firm, in Sydney Australia, Keddies Lawyers. In 2008 the newspaper, Sydney Morning Herald, published a set of articles about clients that were overcharged. One example of a client who was over charged was Shuang Ying Meng. She was in a bus crash and because of this became paraplegic. She told a reporter that she had been charged $800, 000 and cost experts told her that that was almost ten times more then she should have been charged.

Another way a lawyer can take advantage of its client is with collusion. This is when the lawyer works with the opposing side to come up with a result that might not be in favor of the client that hired them. Lastly, another kind of crime that can be committed by a professional is Academic crime. This can be academics and students. “Student white collar crime is best defined as illegal or harmful conduct committed specifically in the context of their student role, for gain or advantage. ” An example of this would be plagiarism. This is when they go to use someone else’s work and try to pass it off as their own. If a student is found guilty of plagiarism consequences can include expulsion, suspension and project or class failure. It also may be put on the student’s transcript so that when they apply to another school, the school will be able to see. Not only can student plagiarize, but professors too. Plagiarism can also affect people years down the road. For example, in 2011 a student achieved his Master’s degree and a year later he submitted his thesis to a journal in his field. The journal then found out that some of the content in his thesis was stolen form that same journal. “The person’s Master’s degree was cancelled and he subsequently lost his job as a university researcher and his postgraduate study rights. ” says Petri Rintamäki”.

Another academic crime is falsifying data. This can also be done by both teachers and students. An example of a teacher falsifying data would be raising student’s success level. This means giving their students a higher grade then they deserve so that they may look like a better teacher or it might make the school look better. Lastly another example of a professional committing an occupational crime is a religious crime. Religious crime in this context has to do with the exploitation of belief. One example of this is Televangelists. These are people who use the media, usually radio or television, to communicate religion. They often take advantage of their listeners/watchers by asking for donations. One example of this was in May 2018, Televangelist Jesse Duplantis told his watchers that God told him he needed a private jet. “Duplantis says the planes get him closer to the Lord – both literally and figuratively – and he had a divine conversation in which Jesus asked for the new aircraft by name. ” He goes on to tell them that the plane would be the ministries plane, not his. He told them that the plane would allow him to travel around the world and spread the word of God.

Employee Crime

Employee crime is Counter Argument. In contrast to this, the origins of the term ‘White Collar Crime’ come from Edwin H. Sutherland. He is well known for coining the term ‘White Collar Crime’ in 1939. He defined white collar crime as “Crime in the upper or white-collar class, composed of respectable or at least respected businessman and professional men”.

Conclusion

In conclusion, even though the first origins of the term white collar crime referred to “respectable or at least respected businessman and professional men”. I still believe that a person or institution of a lower status can still commit a white collar crime. For example, I still think that it would be considered a white collar crime if a small business was to under report their income because this would be considered a non- violent crime that is committed with a financial motivation. That motivation being, they won’t have to pay as high taxes because it appears as though they aren’t making as much profit as they actually are. Examples like this compel me to think that white collar crime is not limited to persons and institutions of high status.

15 July 2020

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