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Studying White Collar Crimes Relative to Other Crimes


White-collar crime refers to those offenses committed by people of high social strata, respectable status, or position in the course of their profession. White-collar crime is further attributed to interpersonal learning and interaction and forms a part of commercial crime because it occurs within corporate settings. Some of the major white-collar crimes include forgery, embezzlement, computer crime, and bribery. Other forms include institutional trading, insurance fraud, cybercrime, cheque and credit card fraud, asset misappropriation, money counterfeiting, identity theft, money laundering, and illegal money lending. (Eds. Geis, Meier & Salinger, 1995)

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Conventional crime on the other hand covers the usual illegal behaviors that are perceived to be criminal, not inclusive of organized, political, or white-collar crimes. These crimes include consumer fraud, bribery, corruption, assault, burglary, sexual crime, vandalism, rape, theft, murder, and robbery among others. (Friedrichs & David, 2003)

The challenges encountered in studying white-collar crime include

White-collar criminals have different characteristics as compared to other criminals; this is because ordinary criminals constitute the marginalized, are of low status, and economically poor people while on the contrary white-collar crime is committed by the high-status group. It further gives a situation that has no empirical relation as it involves crime and the high society that is characteristic of the rich and influential people. There is a low rate of white-collar criminals going to prison compared to the high rates of prisoners jailed for other crimes like the blue-collar type despite efforts to crack down on corporate crime.

The fact that other crimes like murder, burglary, and theft are attributed to associational, structural, and other psychological factors is not an option to blame for white-collar crime. It is a fact that these criminals are learned, intelligent, qualified, and affluent therefore able to get jobs that allow them high salaries but instead use the qualifications to exhaust their victims. (Green & Stuart, 2006)

Another challenge of studying white-collar crime is that these criminals are opportunists who learn over time to take advantage of their status and class for financial gain over time. Also, the fact that these people are very much intellectually smart to be able to win the trust and confidence of their victims makes their operations and identity difficult to study. The consideration that these criminal activities deter the financial success and performance of the commercial institutions also affects the study of white-collar crime as it further involves the affairs of these institutions. (Friedrichs & David, 2003)

These crimes do not start like crimes and the victims don’t consider them as such makes studying them challenging taking into account that they are carried out by the executive class. The fact that these crimes are only possible because of the identity of the offender an example being money laundering that makes the process of studying them much more challenging. (Friedrichs & David, 2003)

The other challenge that encounters the study of these crimes is that record-keeping does not collect data on the social-economic status of offenders that making the research and policy evaluation challenging. The other factor is that the true extent and cost of white-collar crimes are unknown and only estimates of the cost of such crimes can be given. This is because these crimes often overlap with an organizational crime based on organizational customs rather than the offender or the crime. These crimes are committed within a mixing of legitimate and criminal behavior therefore the commission of such crimes is not obvious.

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The issue of reporting is crowded by the customs of commercial confidentiality of protecting such staff. The culprits of these crimes are often able to access the best representation in law and can influence the political class making the study challenge. The lack of white-collar crime-related literature further makes the study challenge. The focus of criminal penalties on the extent of physical force rather than the monetary loss also affects the study. (Eds. Geis, Meier & Salinger, 1995)


It can be argued that the present legal presentation does not substantially cover the area of white-collar crime. It can also be argued that the lack of literature on white-collar crime is the factor that is making the study of these crimes more challenging. The areas that this literature should address include the penalties to be placed on such offenders and giving due consideration to the financial loss rather than the physical force used.

List of references

Friedrichs, David O. (2003). Trusted Criminals: White Collar Crime in Contemporary Society, Wadsworth. Web.

Green, Stuart P. (2006). Lying, Cheating, and Stealing: A Moral Theory of White Collar Crime. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Geis, G., Meier, R. & Salinger, L. (eds.) (1995). White-collar Crime: Classic & Contemporary Views. NY: Free Press.

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