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Victimization in White Collar Crimes

White-collar crime can be identified through a combination of definitions. The definition of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) states that white-collar crimes are “illegal acts characterized by deceit, concealment or violation of trust, which are not dependent upon the application or threat of physical force or violence”(Online Lawyer, 2010). In that regard, the cases of white-collar crimes involve both corporations and individuals as victims of such crimes, the variation of which can be categorized into five different categories. This paper provides an overview of these categories providing an example for each of the presented categories.

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Individuals as Victims of Organizations

The most famous example of organizations victimizing individuals, and white-collar crime in general, can be seen in the example of Enron. The case of Enron can be seen in different categories, in which the victimization of employees and shareholders, as individuals, can be seen only as one of them; “Thousands of employees lost their jobs, and the stock, which once traded as high as $90 a share, shrank to pennies” (Associated Press, 2003). Another famous example, although on a smaller scale, in terms of the money involved, is related to the case of TicketMaster, a famous internet ticket sales company. The company was redirecting their customers from lower-priced portals to premium-priced portal Ticketsnow, which is also owned by the company, without customers’ consent (CNW Group, 2009).

Organizations as Victims of Organizations

The government in the role of the organization as a victim can be seen as a perfect example of white-collar crime, in which an organization victimizes another organization. In that regard, any crime involving accounting fraud can be classified in the aforementioned category, e.g. tax evasion. Accordingly, such cases are not limited only to tax evasion, where investment and securities cases might also fall into that category. The example of the latter can be seen in the case of Citigroup and Terra Firma, in which Terra sued Citigroup for paying “fraudulently inflated price of 4 billion ($6.5 billion) for EMI’s label and music publishing interests in 2007 as a result of misrepresentations made by the lender” (MORRIS, 2009). According to the lawsuit, Citigroup earned about $154.4 million as a result of the deal.

Organizations as Victims of Individuals from within

Generally, it was found out that “victims of prosecuted white collar crime cases are more likely to be organizations than individuals” (Friedrichs, 2009, p. 56). Such category of white collar crime often involves employees in executive position, who gained an opportunity through position of trust. One of the most recognizable examples of such crime can be seen in the case of chief executive officer L. Dennis Kozlowski and chief financial officer Mark J. of Tyco International, a global manufacturing company. The aforementioned employees of the Tyco were convicted in 2005 trial for taking unauthorized pay as earned bonuses in a sum of more than $100 million (Bhushan, 2008).

Organizations as Victims of External Individuals

Similar to organization victimizing organizations, tax evasion can be seen as an example of white collar crime, in which the victim is the government. The most famous case of tax evasion, which is also the biggest, is the case of Walter Anderson. Anderson failed to pay more than $200 million in personal income by “stashing income taxes in offshore bank accounts” (Williams, 2005). This case can be seen as a representation of the initial definition of a white collar crime, in which the crime is committed by a person of respectability and high social status.

Individuals as Victims of Individuals

The examples of individuals victimizing other individuals are numerous, ranging from relatively small internet frauds, to cases involving large scale frauds. One of the most famous examples of the current decade is of Robert Courtney, a former pharmaceutical, who was convicted for “diluting the medications of thousands of individuals during a nine-year spree of avarice” (Draper, 2003). Courtney was sent to jail for more 30 years term, marking his case as one of the largest in health care sector. Smaller cases involve internet and email scams, which are so numerous that cannot be counted. In that regard, such cases can be filed under the category white collar crime of individuals victimizing individuals.


Associated Press. (2003). Enron’s Plan Would Repay A Fraction of Dollars Owed. The New York Times. Web.

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Bhushan, A. (2008). L. Dennis Kozlowski and Mark J. Swartz Seek End to Jail Terms! CEO World. Web.

CNW Group. (2009). Class Action Lawsuit Commenced in Alberta Against Ticketmaster Entertainment, Inc., Ticketmaster Canada Ltd., TNOW Entertainment Group, Inc. and Premium Inventory, Inc. News Wire. Web.

Draper, R. (2003). The Toxic Pharmacist. The New York Times. Web.

Friedrichs, D. O. (2009). Trusted criminals : white collar crime in contemporary society (4th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Higher Education.

MORRIS, C. (2009). Terra Firma sues Citigroup. Variety. Web.

Online Lawyer. (2010). Recent Cases of White Collar Crime. Online Lawyer Source. Web.

Williams, P. (2005). Entrepreneur accused of biggest-ever tax scam. MSNBC. Web.

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